Author: C D Verhoff
Genre: YA Dystopia
Publication: March 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Clara Spinner lives in a society where everything has already been predetermined for her. Raised to adolescence in an artificial womb, Clara then begins her life with her family. Clara is a Compassionate. Her genetic code allows her to stay awake for hours and to care deeply. This makes her a perfect candidate for the medical field.
But Clara doesn't see things quite the same way as those around her. She forces herself to accept the society she's always been devoted to, only to have one of the closest people to her ripped away. Then she begins to question once more. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is sent to the front lines of the war that is being waged with the remainder of people that was once the United States.
This novel started off rather slowly for me. The concept was very intriguing and I was very excited to read it. I was expecting it to be a bit faster paced, but still found the introduction to the society very interesting. The different groups of people and labeling some as "defective" gave me a Divergent feel, but the stories were quite different.
About the halfway point the novel picked up and jumped from one exciting event to another. It was hard for me to put the novel down at this point. I read the last half in almost one sitting. Clara is thrown into a war that she's only ever viewed as an outsider. Now she's the center of a mission to extract memories from an important target using equipment only she a few others can operate. But her brain and heart are at war. After losing her sister, one of the people closest to her, she's afraid to open up to anyone else. She's also worried about destroying someone with the memory machine. Because that's the only way to extract the memories they need: to wipe out the person's brain function.
The story is told in first person from Clara's point of view and she was an easy protagonist to get along with. Unlike many leading characters in dystopias, I didn't feel she was extremely overdone. She was insecure in some ways, she challenged the society to which she had always been devoted, she struggled to reconcile her feelings with what she believed. She was overall a nice character to spend time with.
Clara's sister is tagged as defective and dragged away to The Spotted Elephant Colony, a place that no one is even sure exists. Clara is desperate to get her back, but doesn't know how to find her. And no one she finds can help her. Her only chance is to get involved with the military and try to get a close enough connection to the top to find out where her sister was taken. I liked the relationship between Clara and her sister.
There was a slight touch of romance to this story, but it wasn't overdone. I really liked the love interest Hawk. He was an interesting character. There were a few scenes that I thought he got a bit over the top in, but I still really enjoyed him. I loved the fact that they both had their own struggles with the society as well as the things the other did. It wasn't a simple love, but it was cute.
I'm guessing that this is just the first in a series. The ending leaves us with a definite cliffhanger. I'm definitely looking forward to finding out what happens with Clara and Hawk in any follow up stories. And what they find out about their society and the society of the Luddites (the other nation). And if they find out what exactly happens to those labeled defective.
Overall this was a fun read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopias. It has some of the regular elements with a few new tweaks of its own.