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318 pages, Paperback
First published November 26, 2013
"But if you’re careful—if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then? Your pawn becomes a queen.”I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. If you had asked me what I was going to give this book after the first few chapters, without question, I would have said "1." Therefore, it was with a considerable amount of surprise that I found myself enjoying the rest of the book as much as I did. This does not mean that the rest of the book was perfect, far from it, but the majority of the book was exceedingly better than the half-assed beginning that made me want to slap some fucking sense into our main character, Kitty Doe.
“It’s frightening how much things change in seventy-one years.”It is 71 years since America, as we know it, has disintegrated. Kitty is a poor narrator in that she knows, or is willing to tell us, almost nothing about the past. When Kitty got the chance at gaining more knowledge to Lila's cause while playing Lila, she did not take advantage of the situation to learn any more about the supposed society that she is supposed to be trying to save. All we know of the past is that America ran out of resources. Riots broke out. Some people were killed. Food was scarce. Society disintegrated.
It was there to give us what we deserved so we could make the most of our natural abilities. The smartest members of society could help people in ways that IIs and IIIs couldn’t, so they earned more. It was fair, and without the test, someone who had grown up in a disadvantaged family might never have their talents recognized.The US of the future is poorly depicted outside of the ranking system. We don't know what kind of food there is, if there is supposed to be a shortage. We know there are numerous poor, we see almost nothing of them through Kitty's eyes. We know almost nothing besides the supposed terrible injustice of the ranking system of the future.
“I’m never better off without you,” he said. “We’re in this together. I love you, and that’s never going to change, all right? I’m yours no matter what your rank is. You could be a I, and I would go Elsewhere just to find you.”And we have the wonderful Knox, Lila's fiancé, who becomes Kitty's reluctant ally, who does more for her than I would have done.
I loved her, but I have a duty to my country. We all do. And I will not allow us to return to that dark time. My grandson will not go through what I did. No one ever will again.Overall: a well-written book that is enjoyable if you overlook the extremely vague and inconsistent world building and mildly annoying main character.
I’d seen the posters and heard the speeches. Everyone had. We all had our rightful place in society, and it was up to us to decide what that was. Study hard, earn good grades, learn everything we could, and prove we were special. And when we turned seventeen and took the test, we would be rewarded with a good job, a nice place to live, and the satisfaction that we contributed to our society - everything we would ever need to lead a meaningful life.
“Of course I want to marry you, but you haven’t even taken the test yet, and what if being married to a III affects your rank? I can’t do that to you, Benjy. You deserve better than that.”
I would have done anything to make him happy, but because of my stupid III, I was going to hurt him no matter what I did. At least this way I would be the one risking everything, not him.
I took a shaky breath. “Please don’t do that to me. Don’t make me be the reason your life is ruined. You won’t lose me, I promise. I’ll come see you every day, and when you turn seventeen, you can take your test, and then we’ll both be okay.”
“I know,” I whispered. “But I have to. And by the time it’s over, we’ll have enough saved up to get out of here. Go anywhere we want. You’ll have your pick of assignments, and we’ll never have to worry about any
of this again. Until then…” My mouth went dry, and I tightened my grip on his hand. “Until then, I think we
should break up.”
Benjy stiffened beside me, but he didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to.
“You’re right,” I said. “You deserve better than this. Better than having me as a girlfriend. Better than having me ruin your life. So—let’s not anymore. Not until it’s over. When you’re a VI, if you still want me...”
"I have a boyfriend."
"Yes, you do," he said. Me."
"One I actually like."
"You'll learn to like me eventually," said Knox. "Most people do."