Thursday, August 18, 2011


Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Beth says 4 Stars…

This is another entry into the realm of dystopian fiction, and one that’s more successful than most. The concept seemed somewhat interesting, despite how similar the description sounded to some other recent novels. By the end of the book, however, the initial little blurb proved itself to be less than completely accurate in terms of the tone and content of the novel. The set up for the world has a very incomplete introduction that does improve with time. I thought the plot was interesting enough and it kept me engaged long enough to have things make some sort of sense. Initially the world confused me, with large amounts of information missing. It didn’t make sense well into the book and I just didn’t gain clarity until the end of the novel. I will say that the plot moved at an absolutely breakneck pace, which sucked me in entirely. It also wasn’t predictable although it of course had some familiar elements that I’ll get to later. I never would have predicted the ending, and I found that highly refreshing.

The main thing about Vi that bothered me centered on her romantic relationships. Personality wise Vi didn’t bother me terribly much; in fact I found her internal conflict between her societal conditioning and her own desires fascinating. What really frustrated me was that she immediately became obsessed with a guy. It really got to the point of intense love within an incredibly short amount of time. It’s an example of something that bothers me in YA currently, which is that the female characters become highly wrapped up in a man and lose their identity in the process. Not only that, but they come to the conclusion quite rashly. Literally, within a few weeks in the time of the novel they manage to fall deeply in love and lose all sense of what they need themselves. This book in particular got me because of how Vi changed her romantic loyalties early on, going for the mysterious newcomer while throwing the guy she’d been with for a while under the bus. I did like the interplay between the characters and how you could never really tell where people had their loyalties.

Despite some major flaws, this novel proved to be an interesting debut and start to a series. The end really threw me for a loop in the best possible way and sets up the potential for later books beautifully. I have higher expectations for the forthcoming novels in the series because now I understand the world and the premise significantly better. Instead of being more than a touch confused, in the next book I can focus more on the ethical issues that I’m certain will continue to be raised. I’m optimistic about this one and can’t wait to see where Johnson takes it!


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