I love reading more than just about anything else and can't wait to share my views with you.
This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Always remember The Day: The Day that everything stopped, the millions of people died just so the Lords could prove their power, The Day Dol’s family died, but she miraculously survived. Cut to 10+ years later and teenage Dol is living in the country, far from the Lord’s powerful Icons. But when Dol and Ro, her best friend, are kidnapped and taken to the embassy, then nag change drastically. They meet two more people like them, with weird dot symbols on their wrists. Lucas, the ambassadors son and Tima, a fellow prisoner. The closer the four become, the more they realize that maybe there is more going on than meets the eye. Maybe these four are connected in a way that none of them could have predicted and maybe, just maybe, that are the key to bringing down the Lord's and their malicious icons.
So, the plan with this was simple. I needed something to listen to on the 3 and a half hour drive to Charleston SC for YA`'ll fest and this was available. The plan, was to listen to it on the way there and then on the way back, then I'd be almost finished and it wouldn't hinder my reading my massive stack of E-ARCs because I was using time that I wouldn't have spent reading anyway. Perfect, right? Well, I ended up only listening on the way there and falling asleep on the way back home. So, I'm less than halfway through this thing and I feel guilty every time I pick it up. I have so many books I committed to read and this is not on that list, how can I justified spending time reading it? The other issue was, I met Margaret Stohl at YA`'ll fest and she fucking amazing, so I have to love this, right? But, initially I didn't. It was good, but not great. Interesting, but not stay up all night addictive. So I deliberately read it slowly because I did NOT want write a negative review for this. I need to love it. And, eventually, I really got into it. Let's see why.
The biggest reason I initially didn't love this was because I'm not a big fan of Dol. I found her a bit immature and a whole lot annoying. Throughout the novel . People comment on her being clever, but I never saw it. She seemed a bit slow and can't ever seen to make up her mind. She does that insanely annoying thing where she claims to "love" To, a male character, and its implied that it's romantic feelings, but then she sees Lucas, and holy shit, she's in love. Our at least she knows she doesn't have romantic feelings for Ro. She also came across as gullible, always just believing what she was told without any investigation. Needless to say, I was not a fan.
Then there are the guys: Ro and Lucas. I wasn't a huge fan of either, but I wanted her to end up with Ro because he is the one who has always been there for her. Also because I didn't see the appeal of Lucas. He just wasn’t the hero for me. He seemed a little….well “uppity” is the only word that comes to mind. He’s the Ambassador’s son and has lived a privileged life. The whole love triangle thing pissed me off. I hate fucking hate them and I hate them passionately. Obviously I was less than enthused about this one.
I also had a bit of an issue with the amount of confusion. While I applaud Stohl for avoiding the infamous info dump, I felt like I was given too little information at times. Who the hell are the Lords? How do the Icons work? How is the weird government set up? I get that the Lords give the orders somehow and the Ambassadors carry them out, but who appointed the ambassadors? How do the Lords give information? I can even leave Dol’s part out because obvious that is supposed to be a mystery, but a bit more world building wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Where this novel shines, however, is in its side characters. Namely, Fortis and Dr. Orwell Bradbury Huxley-Clark. Now, had the novel been told by Fortis’ perspective, I’d have been in love. Fortis is all rebellion. Hot, sarcastic, british, intelligent…::drools:: From the first moment Dol met him on the train, I was head over heels. Then there is Doc, a fucking COMPUTER PROGRAM. But this computer program has snark and spunk and had me smiling and giggling even when I wanted to scream in frustration from dealing with Dol. The sarcasm and the jokes and the over serious observations made all the bad parts completely worth it.
Really, this is a 3.5, but Goodreads doesn’t allow half-star ratings and I’m too damn tired (read: lazy) to crop one of those crappy bows in half to post. It only ends on a very mild cliffhanger, so at least we don’t have the love triangle/insta-love/cliffhanger trifecta! It’s an interesting mix of dystopian and scifi, with light romance and quirky side characters to keep you smiling. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely worth the read. And the last 100 pages or so get truly interesting. It’s no coincidence that it’s also when Fortis appears again and we learn a bit more of Doc’s origins. :)