Friday, October 14, 2011

Dystopian Copycat Too Generic For My Taste

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows I love me some YA dystopian. I can't get enough of it. Except, the thing is, I'm starting to get impatient with the same ole, same ole. At this point, with doomsday fiction flooding the market, I'm craving originality. Or at least some good storytelling. And maybe some complex characters, surprising plot twists, snappy dialogue? Is that too much to ask? Maybe.

Case in point: Eve by Anna Carey. The novel, the first in a new dystopian trilogy, begins in a cloistered society of young women. At the School, the girls are kept behind guarded walls, safe from the soldiers and scavengers who live in the wasted world beyond. Through education, they're being groomed to become society's next doctors, scientists, and saviors. At least that's what they've been told. When 17-year-old Eve discovers what really happens to the School's graduates, she's horrified. It's only a matter of hours before she, herself, will be advanced into the City.

Refusing to accept the awful fate that's befallen her classmates, Eve sets out on a perilous journey. Traveling across the ruins of what was once Northern California, she's determined to reach the ocean, where a safe haven is said to exist. But the king of New America's taken a strange interest in young Eve and he's not about to let her roam free. With royal guards chasing after her, she's reluctant to trust anyone who might be punished for helping her, but when Eve meets Caleb, she takes the risk. With both of their lives on the line, they make for what was once San Francisco. Getting there will not be easy, it may not even be possible. Especially when the all-powerful king has chosen Eve for his own.

Plot sound familiar? I've read it 100 times (give or take). Carey does break the dystopian pattern a little - Eve discovers her society's big secret in the first two chapters, then spends the rest of the book running. Usually it takes the heroine a little longer to "get it." The problem with this divergence is that it actually rushes the plot, not giving the reader enough time to get acclimated to the story's dystopian world or to get to know Eve and her friends well enough to care about them. The reader's thrust right into the action, which isn't a bad thing except when it comes at the expense of character development. In Eve, it certainly does. This, coupled with flat characters, melodramatic dialogue, predictable plot twists, and an underdeveloped setting, made the novel another generic dystopian copycat.

I wanted to like Eve, I really did, but I just didn't. Maybe the story will improve over the next two books. Maybe it won't. It doesn't matter because I won't be sticking with this one long enough to find out.

(Readalikes: Eve's got similar themes as The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood; Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien; Delirium by Lauren Oliver; etc.)

Grade: C-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Eve from the generous folks at HarperTeen. Thank you!

4 comments:

  1. I got up to page 110 (I was hoping the extra 10 pages would redeem the last 100) before calling it quits. I loved the beginning and I thought it was going to be an awesome read.

    But... it wasn't. The whole time she was in the tunnel or whatever it was I was just confused. I get what was going on but really, what?

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  2. Exactly! I thought the book had a solid premise, but the plot just went in some weird directions. It ended up being confusing, melodramatic and unrealistic. I was really disappointed in it as I, like you, thought it was going to be an "awesome read."

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  3. bummed you didn't like this one! i adored the quick pacing and the challenging decisions Eve faced. i also really like how she didn't forget her friends back at school...methinks they will show up in the next book.

    but like you said, if you didn't like this dystopian, there are plenty of others to choose from!

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  4. I actually liked this one. Although it did remind me of other Dystopian books (Wither). I was just glad it was cleaner than Shatter Me. I could recommend this to my young women without feeling embarrassed.

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