so i did, i almost gave this book four
stars cats. but then i said to myself, “self – you have to stop giving these YA dystopias your knee-jerk four star cat ratings just because you like the genre and you like to see teens in peril, you sick twist.” and it’s true. these things are pure candy for me to read. and i don’t even care so much that the majority of them lack that believability factor. i tend to star-rate within this genre based on enjoyability rather than literary value, because i am neither a professional reviewer nor a teen.
but although i enjoyed this one so much, i gotta be more critical every now and again.
is this book fun? yup.
is the writing stellar?
well, that’s the thing. it has great action sequences and a fine premise, but the characterization is a little weak.
it is told as a split-narrative between a young girl and a young boy. but their voices are completely interchangeable. not to the extent that you ever mistake one for the other, because their circumstances are completely different, howevs they do indeed sound like one character split into two. this would have been fine – two star-crossed lovers from different sides of the tracks that are in reality one soul split in two – oh true love and all that. but in order for that to work, there would have had to have been really strong secondary characters to show that the author had serious chops and was actively making that point. but all the other characters come from the avatar school of thought: “i am on this side of the issue so i am perfect and good.” “i am on the other side of the issue so i am terrrrible.”
some nuance wouldn’t have hurt.
i just didn’t get a good sense of individuality here at all. no one is complicated enough.
as a mystery novel in which the answers unspool at a reasonable pace and keep the reader interested, it is fine. more than fine. but when you sit down and start thinking about the characters themselves, you end up with beigey porridge.
as a retelling of les mis, which i am told this is supposed to be a nod to, it is completely unconvincing. seriously – if that is why you are reading this book, you are going to be mystified. if anything, it is more like romeo and juliet. the one with leonardo dicaprio and that chick from my so-called life. with more cage-fighting.
i’m not gonna lie, i had a great time reading this, but i think that if every book is going to be a variation on a theme, we gotta start raising the bar. because while this is fun, it is not really a game-changer.
i am not saying “don’t read this,” because this is a really high three, but the flaws have got to be addressed for the integrity of the goodreads.com community.
so – yeah – read this. but read it with some pop rocks and cherry dr. pepper, and an awareness that it’s not going to stick to your ribs.