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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS...LOTS OF SPOILERS. ALSO LOTS OF BAD LANGUAGE (WHICH SHOULD BE EXPECTED). YOU MAY PROCEED!
Anthem Fleet was just a normal rich girl with a pushy boyfriend, barely there parents, and a drive to be the best prima ballerina she can be.....until she sneaks out for a party, meets a new boy who subsequently get's kidnapped for ransom causing her to run away and fall into a lake where she is saved by a boy who takes her to a crazy doctor who gives her a chimeric heart because she'll die otherwise. Then she goes all vigilante to save the oh so special boy and get vengeance on the people who took him in the first place.
Before I get started with the usual shenanigans that are involved in my angry reviews, I want to get something out of the way. I'm going to try something new here. Since talking with Lauren about this book and how absolutely insane it is, I have been inspired to make it a themed gif post. All the gifs used here will be taken from the Nostalgia Critic. This will happen for two reasons. The first being I'm a huge fan. The second is that this book inspired Doug Walker level rage and I feel his expressions can help me express my feelings to you. If it goes well, I may attempt to do more gif themed reviews, but we shall see. Also, instead of just giving you my thoughts, I'm going to walk you through the novel and it's craziness. This may go horrible wrong, but I'll never know unless I try. Now, back to the review.
We start off with Anthem whining about life. She is a replacement kid, you see. Her parents had another daughter who died and they had Anthem to replace the dead one. So we see her parents pressure her to fit into Rachel's (the dead one) mold even though they are ssssoooo different (Hint: they really aren't). She is supposed to attend this fancy party with her parents and meet up with her boyfriend of several years, but since he has been pressuring her to sleep with him and she doesn't want to, she lies and tells her parents she is sick and stays home. Then she sneaks out with her friend and goes to a rave. She meets Gavin, a oh so hot, but sweet and sensitive, guy. The two talk a little and then the police break up the party so they get separated and she assumes she won't see him again. Up until this point, I was fine. The novel was okay, but not amazing. Then we get to the next bit.
Anthem realizes that she doesn't really want to be with Will because her night with Gavin showed her better things are possible, so she dumps him. She goes to ballet practice as normal and Gavin is waiting outside for her. Now, at the party, Anthem didn't give him any of her info besides a fake name and the general direction of her home. The fact that he was able to find her suggests stalker tendencies because he had no logical way of knowing we she'd be. But Anthem, being the idiot that she is, is just overjoyed to see him and skips Ballet practice (something she's never done before) to spend time with him. She ends up skipping practice all week, telling her instructor that she has an injured ankle which the instructor believes without any kind of corroboration from a doctor or her parents, to continue hanging out. Now, at the end of this single week, she follows Gavin home and gives him her virginity because she loves him so much.
That's right, Will, the obnoxious boyfriend of years doesn't deserve it, but guy of the one week knowledge is worth it. After they get it on, things get really interesting. Or maybe interesting isn't the right word because there was no point in this novel where I would have had a problem sitting it down for something else. But anyway, things take an unexpected turn with thugs break in and kidnap Gavin. They tell Anthem to get them an exorbitant amount of money by Friday or they'll kill precious Gavin. They leave and Anthem tries to run back home, but gets accosted by a hobo. Then Ford, another random guy, saves her and tells her that she needs to give him a reward for such an act.
Thinking he is a creep, she runs off again and ends up falling off a bridge into a river that kills her. But oh so heroic Ford jumps in and saves her and takes her to his demented doctor friend who gives her a heart transplant to save her. She gets a chimeric heart and she's all healed.
Now, when Anthem awakens, she realizes several days have passed. She runs home, against the good doctor's recommendation, to beg her parents for the money to save Gavin. She decides they don't need to know about her death and surgery and new heart. She begs them to save Gavin, but they refuse because they won't negotiate with terrorists and they'll probably just demand more money anyway.
Anthem then steals some of her mom's jewelry to try to negotiate with them. Her family's body guard, Serge, helps her in this endeavor, volunteering to go in and make the trade. This goes badly and Anthem swoops in the save him because her chimeric heart gives her many new abilities. She's super fast, super strong, super healing...basically a lot of supers. Why does the chimeric heart allow her to do these things? I don't fucking know. It's never explained!
Anyway, after that she decides to find the baddies on her own because she doesn't want anyone else she loves to get hurt. Meanwhile, in normal life, because she is a teenager and that means parents and school and drama, Will is black mailing her into being his girlfriend. Apparently after she dumped him he planted a camera in her room and recorded her acting like a chimeric heart freak and says if she doesn't pretend to date him, he'll post it online so the world can see what she really is. Instead of using her new found abilities to sneak into his home, beat him senseless, and take his computer with the files, she angrily agrees to his plan. Because she is powerless against him?
So in real life she is going through the motions and in night life, she is using Ford to help her hunt down Gavin's kidnappers. They find him, she goes to save him, he gets shot through the heart and dies. At which point I just freak the fuck out.
You make such a big deal about the instalove and how she can't let him die and then just like that, you shoot him and it's game over? Interesting. That wasn't a twist I saw coming. I don't like it, but kudos to you for shocking me. After that, Anthem goes into a short depression and then a rage filled training session with Ford to learn to fight. I personally think this is useless because she has super-human strength and super-human speed and super-human healing, so the basics are combat aren't really necessary, but hey, it's your life! She takes out the gang that killed Gavin one by one. When she gets to the ringleader chick, she actually kills her. The others she just gift wraps for the police, but the girl who actual shot Gavin gets to die.
Her quest is complete, so the novels over, right?
No? Damn. Anthem, despite missing all those practices, is the lead in the ballet's performance of Giselle. She performs and then finds a note about the boss of the gang that the kidnappers worked for is going to be at a party and she should go and handle him. And she does. Anyone wanna guess who the boss is?
It's Gavin! He's not really dead! He faked his death and used Anthem to get her money!
Apparently Anthem is dumber than we thought because even though he dies in her arms, she doesn't notice the fake blood or how it's cold or possibly how he is still fucking breathing!
But yeah, they fight, he shoots Ford, who followed Anthem to save her and Gavin gets away while Anthem rushes Ford to his crazy doctor friend. Don't worry people, he is fine. She uses her super-sleuth abilities...
to find Gavin and throws him off a cliff, killing him. Then she realizes that her dad is in cahoots with Gavin and his gang and book over!
Oh! And somewhere in the middle, Anthem convince's Will's parents that he is on drugs and needs help so they ship him off to rehab while she makes off with is damning video! YAYAY!
The problem with this besides the insta-love and love triangle (rectangle?) and the crazy plot and my annoyance (read: hatred) for the lead character, is the complete lack of world building. It is apparent that this does not take place in modern day America (or modern day anywhere). It's obvious that it's a dystopian world of some kind. But we never get anymore information than that.
Just like an explanation for why a chimeric heart suddenly allows her to do so many new things, we get no explanation about this world. We get no background or history on when things changed or why or how. We get nothing to explain away the crazy people names and don't even get me started on the names for the drugs people take.
What it comes down to is this novel was a big mess. It gets 2 stars instead of one because the last 50 pages or so were very intense and interesting and I like that she realizes what an idiot she was in the beginning with Gavin. This novel is billed as The Dark Knight meets Cinder and in that respect it fails hopelessly. It resembles neither work. It fails on all counts, barely keeping me motivated enough to put in the effort to finish it. And now I have to read the sequel because I requested it for review. This novel is why I'm going to stop doing that. I'm only going to request first books or books in a series I have already started to avoid having to force myself to read something I'm pretty sure I'm not going to enjoy.
So there you have it! My very first novel walk through! What did you think? Did you like the themed gifs? Did you hate them? Are you also a Nostalgia Critic fan? Inquiring minds need to know! Mostly just I need to know, but I'm sure someone else out there is curious!