A young adult dystopian novel. The premise was interesting, but a little hard for me to buy into -- how could a society possibly have ended up divided...moreA young adult dystopian novel. The premise was interesting, but a little hard for me to buy into -- how could a society possibly have ended up divided into personality traits? Who in the world is that one-dimensional? The characters *aren't* one-dimensional -- just the factions are. I guess it's difficult to see such a physically/ideologically divided society with very opposite ideas of success coexisting for any length of time (which they seem to have been doing for generations). Anyway, if you suspend any sort of analysis of the impossibility of this, then, like I said, it's an interesting concept.
The other thing that got old fast was the hands all over each other kissing, etc. in the teenaged couple. I know, I know, it's a young adult dystopian romance, but still I said it. I guess I'm old. Still, I feel the romantic aspect could have been maintained without constantly talking about rippling muscles and making out -- this opinion is partially influenced by my husband also reading it and not being able to highly recommend the book to his brother because of that.
Otherwise, the premise is interesting, the characters are interesting, the pace is fast, and it kept me hooked.
I actually have seriously mixed feelings about this book and I'm not sure what I want to rate it. Sarah's story definitely drove me to keep reading. I...moreI actually have seriously mixed feelings about this book and I'm not sure what I want to rate it. Sarah's story definitely drove me to keep reading. It really set this ache in my chest that kept me reading and reading. I felt so hopeless for her and her brother and her parents in the camps -- I shed bitter tears at some of the most difficult experiences she went through. I so badly wanted her to get back to her brother and for him to be all right. I felt so much relief over every person who showed her any amount of compassion. That part of the story was riveting. I wanted to read, to learn, to understand, to follow her story, but in some way I also felt guilty reading about this event as "entertainment."
I think that last feeling was exacerbated by the Julia story line. I just didn't identify with Julia's story as much and even though the tie-in between her and Sarah was important, I felt annoyed at the chapters where I had to read about Julia and her failing marriage. It's not that a marriage is inconsequential. It's so very important, but her dramas and difficulties juxtaposed with Sarah's seemed insanely trivial. I needed her as a catalyst to bring all the pieces together, but I wanted to skip out on the drama and girl chats and her husband's ribbing and descriptions of his sexiness. Her husband was annoying (and intolerable because of being unfaithful and for being a wimp of a dad), but some things about her bugged me too. I did feel grateful in her story for everyone who showed her compassion, for all the positive experiences she had with people -- for relationships that still had humanity in them even when there was pain and tension (with Bertrand), and relationships that mended (like with Edouard). Another reviewer commented on the fact that the book was weakened considerably by the fact that Sarah's story becomes *about* Julia, and that also seems to trivialize the story, and I agree with that assessment.
I also had serious trouble with the ending somehow. I had trouble with the perfection with which the "right" people came together by their marriages failing and their lives falling apart. I know that sometimes our lives do rise up out of the ashes and that God himself has a hand in that. However, the feeling that they were brought together by fate was a little hard for me to swallow in this story. It's an interesting idea, but I feel like that romantic thread just didn't work for me. (less)