COMMENTS: This book reads like a love fest. The story revolves around Kaia, whose position of favor took a turn for the worse in the previous installment when she was sent to Planet Danu. Her life plummets into disarray when she is forced to pose as Cadmus’s girlfriend, knowing that his brother—and her real boyfriend—Ajax, would be devastated. Moreover, her allegiance to the Reformation Republic is tested when the momentum around the Resistance builds up and even her own brother seems enticed with the “enemy.”
From the very beginning Kaia’s relationship with Ajax had been a bumpy one, filled on his side with frustration and feelings of inadequacy. Once on Danu the fate of their love story is even more questionable, when her relationship with Cadmus develops effortlessly. The “wrong” brother nearly confesses his love for Kaia and the difficulty of sacrificing himself for Ajax. Ajax’s arrival, despite the express orders to remain home, would seem to calm the situation, but instead it muddles the romantic waters even more. Add to that the cousin who is infatuated with the same girl whom he never met and you get the idea of the quagmire Kaia has fallen in.
As far as I’m concerned, Ajax is my favored character, not so much because he is the “good guy,” but because he is so complicated. He is torn between feelings of inadequacy, resentment for his brother’s easy-going nature, jealousy, and love. It is this very tension that pushes him harder towards success—where Cadmus feels entitled to be at the top, Ajax’s strife to be the best despite the hardship is much more relatable. Everything would be so much easier if Ajax let his feelings loose—he’d get the girl and together they’d rule the world. By the time he does this, the chaos in their love story is so advanced that reaching a happy ending requires three times the initial effort.
What I absolutely loved about this installment was the Resistance. How simple would have been for Kaia if the resisters were nice people! She already hated the commander, so changing sides would have come naturally. But that is till you get to know them better... Not only the resisters aren’t the “nice guys,” I found them completely unlikable, which was a huge surprise for me—in a good way. They are bordering on stalking and abusive, the least desirable attributes a reader would expect from the resistance. Their behavior invoked from me unanticipated emotional responses—annoyance, in the best cases, anger, in the worst ones. This leads Kaia into an even worse situation—choosing between two evils, where both sides treat her like nothing more than genetic material. I absolutely loved this twist, because it makes her decision so much harder. When she chooses, she doesn’t take the convenient path a normal teenager would walk. No, she has to “bushwhack” in order to find a third choice, harder but right.
This was a lovely read that made me reflect on the choices we make in love and the need to open up before it’s too late.
TECHNIQUES: This is a multi-narrative told in the first person, with a linear timeline.
COMMENTS: This was a real page-turner–I finished itGENRE: dystopia, post-apochalyptic, young adult
PUBLISHER: Clean Reads
PLOT: See the GoodReads pitch.
COMMENTS: This was a real page-turner–I finished it in two sittings. You get love and adventure, in a setting similar to ENDER’S GAME meets DUNE. There are certain passages where the love story
tugs on your heartstrings, particularly since it isn’t fulfilled until the very end. The two protagonists, Kaia and Ajax, are very young, but they make the same mistakes people twice their age repeat over and over. So the love story never feels juvenile.
Through Kaia’s eyes, we witness a world that many people today dream of–that of performance athletes. She and her fellow football player are showered with honors and glory. What most people don’t envision is these athletes’ life of work and sacrifice. I found their resentment of the “simple people’s” privileges (the parties, the easier schedule, having a girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.) realistic and lacking the fake luster that sometimes taints sport books. Both parties (the students and the athletes) believe that the others’ life is perfect and such, a mutual resentment is born. Even Ajax, Kaia’s love interest, begrudge her genetics, fact which snowballs in an “I hate that I want you, but I don’t want anyone else to have you either” situation. While unfortunate, I found Ajax’s reaction quite realistic and it made me pine even more for a happy ending. When at last Ajax accepts himself as Kaia’s equal and welcomes her in his life is very satisfying and leaves room for further development.
What really stood up for me about this book was the well-fleshed futuristic world. We encounter a believable high-tech civilization, with a historical backdrop that justifies it. Even the frivolity you’d would expect from teenagers is dampened by a society in which children must earn their energy. Through Kaia’s reverence for the order and asceticism of her life, the reader imagines what all other people desire–or fail to desire–we see the humanity’s obsession with the idea of energy. And here comes the interesting aspect: in a general sense, the totalitarian regime is right. Squandering the energy caused the downfall of the human civilization. So are the antagonists wrong to toughen the measures that would prevent a similar turn of events in the future? They aren’t. Their crime occurs when they use history as a brainwashing instrument for furthering their own goals–genetic manipulation.
I'm looking forward to the sequel.
TECHNIQUES: This is a multi-narrative told in the first person, with a linear plot.