**spoiler alert** I'm not one to expound too much on low ratings, but I feel compelled to do so, here, given the high praise heaped on this book by ot...more**spoiler alert** I'm not one to expound too much on low ratings, but I feel compelled to do so, here, given the high praise heaped on this book by other reviewers.
That said, this will be spoilerific, so if you want out, now would be the time to bail. Seriously. I'm going to spoil the hell out of this.
Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against indie publishers (authors who choose to self-publish). This review has nothing to do with that.
First, the things I liked about the book.
The author is actually very good at pacing. The book reads easily -- one might almost say 'effortlessly' -- and you keep turning page after page to see how things come out.
I think that, from a technical viewpoint, the author is not bad. Nothing leaped out at me, as sometimes happens, to kick me out of the story because of some technicality of writing or style that reminded me, "Hey, you're reading a book." Some beautiful little turn of phrase or clever dialogue that made me focus on the words and not the story.
I thought the main characters were likable, and I found myself caring what happened to them at every point. This was, for me, the saving grace of the book.
Now, if that were all I judged the books on, I would easily have given this 4 stars and moved on. I was entertained. But a couple of things just have to be said.
First of all, I'm not a psychologist, nor do I have any clinical understanding of the field. But I couldn't help but notice that the people in this world don't behave like real people living in a real world. We are told early on that none of the people banished to clean the lenses has ever -- EVER, in hundreds of years -- failed to do his or her duty before dying.
Unless we're being lied to -- and that is a possibility, but if that's the case, then it was far too subtle for me to pick up on -- I find it highly improbable that not a single person would have failed to clean the lenses in hundreds of years. I would not have cleaned them, and I don't think I'm SO different from other people. I would have thought, "So long, suckers, I'm going to head over toward that miraculous city over there." Probably tinged with a little, "You jerks kicked me out. Why should I do you any favors?" Or maybe I would have frantically jumped up and down gesticulating wildly at the onlookers, trying to make them understand that they were being lied to.
I had a real problem getting past that. It seemed plausible right up to the point where you kind of started to figure out what was going on, and then with the least bit of thought about it, the premise just collapses.
I read this on my Kindle (so no skipping ahead). After the main character of the fist section dies, I thought, "Oh, so that was kind of a prologue. No problem." Then I read the second part, where the mayor was the main character . . . and then SHE dies. "O . . . K," I thought, angry, but willing to move on. Then the third section opens with Juliette about to be sent out for cleaning, and we quickly find out that the deputy committed suicide, and I stopped reading for over a week, absolutely disgusted with the book. This was at 23% in the Kindle.
I mentioned as much to a friend who had read the whole thing, and she told me that Juliette remained the main character for the remainder of the book.
Had I not known this, I would have honestly stopped reading it right there. It's too much. Give me a character to hang onto from the beginning. Don't yank the rug out from under me like that not once, not twice, but THREE times, and expect me to continue reading.
The next time I almost stopped reading was when Bernard explained to Lukas how all the silos came to be. It was . . . just so contrived. I mean, straight out of insane conspiracy theories about the New World Order. In short, the US saw that it was in decline, and rather than just deal with that, the Ebil Gubmint decided that if they couldn't be in charge, no one ELSE could, either, so they literally made the surface of the entire planet uninhabitable and established the silos as a kind of Ark to preserve the species and their ideological way of life. Why? Because they're EBIL. And they're the GUBMINT.
Had this come earlier in the book . . . I would have stopped reading it and moved on to something else. As it was, this came after I was invested in the characters of Juliette, Solo, Walker, Shirly, and Lukas. So I kept reading to find out how it ended. That, incidentally, is why I didn't give it 1 star. I did get invested in the characters, and I did want to know what happened. And, as I said, the pacing was marvelous.
Speaking of getting invested . . . Juliette risks her life to leave silo 17 and return to silo 18. I fully expected Lukas to die, so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be Bernard. But in spite of her promise to the inhabitants of silo 17, we are not shown that she mentions them AT ALL after her return to silo 18. At the end, in an epilogue, we are given a glimpse into what's going on in silo 17 as Solo is about to call Juliette . . . but we don't know if anyone in silo 18 was primed to receive the call. For all the 17ians knew, Juliette died in the Outside. She was, after all, out of commission for weeks while she healed from her burns.
I was expecting Juliette's acceptance of the Mayorship to hinge on connecting 17 and 18 in the Down Deep and get some engineers over there to get 17 running again. But . . . no.
To be fair, perhaps this is the story for the sequel series, but it would have been nice for him to have at least followed up on this.
One last thing that just bothered the crap out of me is resources. It was stated that the silo complex was located near Atlanta, Ga. There were mines and oil wells under the silo. But I find it very difficult to believe that there is enough ore and oil in Georgia to sustain 50 silos for hundreds upon hundreds of years of constant mining and pumping. I also found it very difficult to believe that in all that time, not even once did a wall collapse between the mines of adjacent silos.
Anyway, that's enough. My two stars are because I just can't accept the psychology, world building, physics, and math of the world I'm being asked to accept. And basing the entire premise on a loony conspiracy theory didn't help.
I wanted to like this book more. I'm not sorry I finished reading it, but if someone had told me from the beginning that it was based in New World Order conspiracy theories, I would have passed.(less)