*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review.*
I have some conflicting feelings about this book, but, since Riser (the love interest) was my favorite thing, I’ll start by talking about him. He was just so interesting. I mean, how can you not be interested in a character who has descriptions as awesome as this:
“It wasn’t always like this,” I say to Riser, who’s watching the feral dogs like he wants to spring from the rooftop and join them.
There was also this one scene in which Maia was watching Riser as he was messing with a cat food dispenser, and, once he made the food come out, he picked a piece up, sniffed it, and ate it. Then he was just like, “This thing. It gives you food. Want some?” And to us, that seems ridiculous. But when you take into consideration that he grew up in “the Pit,” this hellish underground place with no light or water, let alone gadgets, where people survived by eating rats, moldy food scraps, and each other, you realize that cat food is definitely a step up, and his behaviors actually make sense. So not only was he interesting, he was well-written.
Though I admit it was funny to me that Riser was so fond of cat food since he actually reminded me of a cat. He was so curious and cunning, always paying attention to everything, but he was also so easily awed and distracted, like in this other scene when he chased a little flying electronic thing all over the room, trying to catch it and swat at it.
There was also this other scene in which Maia was taking a bath and Riser suddenly started washing her hair, and at first it seemed weird and forced because who does that? But then he realized what he was doing and explained *MILD SPOILER ALERT* that he used to take care of his mother, and washing her hair was one of the few things he was able to do for her. So then it made complete sense—when he started washing Maia’s hair, he wasn’t even thinking, it was just the way he was accustomed to showing care and affection—and was an insightful look into his character. *END SPOILER ALERT*
But anyway, I think I’ve talked enough about Riser. Now for some lists!
More Things I Liked:
– The book was unique and intriguing. It did keep me pretty hooked.
– The author really didn’t avoid the gruesome, gritty, disgusting, violent, terrible stuff, and I appreciated that.
– The almost love triangle was complicated, subtle, realistic, and unpredictable. To be honest, I’m still not even sure if it was a triangle at all. (Romance was really a background thing though.)
– The story in general was somewhat unpredictable.
Things I Disliked:
– I was confused about the world. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be an alternate universe or our world in the future because there was no explanation for how it would’ve come to have that society, but they had the same kind of animals and objects and things as we have on earth. There was also a lot to figure out and keep track of—Golds, Silver, Bronzes, Royalists, Mercs, Centurians, Fienian rebels, Chosens, different cities, different technologies, etc.
– I had a hard time picturing some of the settings, like the Pit in the beginning.
– A lot of things worked out just a little too perfectly. Not that bad things never happened (trust me, they did), just that some things happened exactly as the characters needed them to.
– Certain things didn’t quite make sense. For example, if the people uploading can see the thoughts, hear the conversations, etc. of the Chosens, then how was it that Maia and Riser could talk about their secret plans to each other? Anyone watching would hear these things. There was a brief mention that the uploaders wouldn’t see/hear anything that wasn’t meant for them, but that wasn’t enough explanation for me.
– I couldn’t really get a handle on Maia/Everly’s character and how the Reconstruction worked. See, they “reconstructed” Maia and gave her someone else’s (Everly’s) feelings and memories. But there were also some bits of Maia left? It seemed kind of inconsistent. Also, Everly was cold and heartless most of the time, so the character just wasn’t very likeable.
– Riser, as much as I liked him, was a little too stereotypically YA perfect. He was edgy, but then he was also super sweet and protective, even when it didn’t seem to fit with his character or situation. I liked his feral, murderous side more ;-)
– All the ruthlessness and evilness within the society and many of the characters was too extreme for me to find it realistic.
Overall though, even though the list of things I disliked is longer than the list of things I liked, the good still managed to outweigh the bad, and I was pretty hooked while reading and am considering continuing the series.
YA dystopian fans who like interesting characters and violence with all the gruesome details.