I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book-- I had read the first couple of pages, was uninspired, and the book languished on my Kindle...moreI was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book-- I had read the first couple of pages, was uninspired, and the book languished on my Kindle for several months before I decided to give it a second try. (I'm glad I did!)
If you read science fiction, you might already be familiar with this construct: a person's "essence" can be "downloaded" (or archived-- saved in some way) for later access. Using this basic idea, Schwab builds an "afterlife" that requires the involvement of the living to successfully archive the "Histories" of the dead.
The main characters are unique in many ways (to have a job that requires you to interact frequently with the "dead" and to keep secret an entirely other world would mean that you'd have to be a bit "different!"), but they also seem like "real" people. McKenzie's responses to situations (the death of her brother, the attentions of the adults, her relationships with friends, and even the stresses of being a "Keeper") ring true; her parents' struggles with coming to terms with the loss of their child seem plausible; and the characters who live in the Coronado are also believable (a fine line for the writer to walk, given the storyline!)
I also appreciated the pacing. Schwab gives enough detail that (if you hang in there for the first few pages!) the world of the Archive is clear. McKenzie's memories of her grandfather ("Da") give insight into McKenzie's struggles to make the "right" decisions regarding her interaction with the world of the Archive. Most teenagers are sorting out the balance between parental advice and their own instincts; it seems that young adults would identify with these struggles, and cheer for McKenzie when she gets it right-- or when she learns from her mistakes and works through the consequences (and McKenzie dodges quite a few of those bullets!). McKenzie's struggles with this inform her actions, and while Schwab illuminates that struggle, she doesn't get bogged down in it.
This was just a fun read-- the promise of the sequel has me looking forward to January 2014! (less)
With all the hubbub (well-deserved, to be sure!) over the Hunger Games, it's nice to find another YA dystopian lit novel that develops likable charact...moreWith all the hubbub (well-deserved, to be sure!) over the Hunger Games, it's nice to find another YA dystopian lit novel that develops likable characters who "ring true," action that keeps on keeping on, and totally obvious and have-to-hate-'em villains.
I thought Lu's use of typeset to distinguish between Day's voice and June's was brilliant, and the trade-off between the character's stories helps highlight each character's changing feelings (June's about the Republic and Day; Day's about June and his "place" as a rebel). I loved the fast-paced action; Lu gives just enough description to help me "see" the action, without overwhelming me with details. I also enjoyed the introduction of lesser characters (Kaede and Tess, especially!) with the idea that we'll get to know them better as the story progresses through the next two books.
As with any good trilogy, Lu leaves plenty of mystery to bring readers back for the next book. Of course, the Republic's manipulation of the plague is the obvious draw, but I want to know more about Tess-- about her history and how she fits in to the overall story arc, and about Kaede and the Patriots. It would be disappointing to NOT learn the history of the Republic (and the Patriots)-- I'm hopeful that we'll get some background about how the Republic formed and why (it sounds as if states are their own countries now(?)) as we learn more about the control the government exerts on their people. (Not filling in those blanks would be a true disappointment, but I'll still give Lu time to get into that in #2!-- potential here to make the second book more than just the "bridge" book that they usually are!)