E-galley received from Netgalley for review.
I was very excited when I first received this egalley for review through Netgalley. However, after starting to read it, I had trouble sticking to the end. I did finish it. It left me quite perplexed; there were some things I liked and some others that made me wince.
Zoel is a teenager living in the underground Community, where there are no feelings, pain or war. Everyone has a computer chip planted in their brain that wipes out disruptive emotions and allows people to live in a peaceful, productive way; their thoughts have been replaced by the Link feed. When Zoe starts malfunctioning, aka "glitching", all her thoughts and feelings come back to her in full force.
At first, her brain prompts her to report herself, as everyone in the Community has been trained to report any anomalous behaviour. Then she meets other young people who are Glitchers like her, her classmates Max and Adrien; and learns of the existence of a revolutionary movement called the Resistance. Zoe wants everyone to be free from servitude to the link and to be able to experience life at its fullest, but she must be careful not to be detected, or she will be deactivated.
I find the concept behind this novel quite interesting: a whole population reduced to slavery, living underground, under the pretense of enjoying peace and security. I would've liked more background story, so that we could learn how exactly humanity became an army of drones; but maybe we'll that in future books.
Romance in this novel was quite unsettling. On the one hand, we have Max, who treats Zoe as his own property, constantly pressures her to have sex, and gets another girl pregnant just to make Zoe jealous. And Zoe allows that, because she basically thinks she deserved it. Why? Why would she think she deserved being manhandled, manipulated, and pressured into something she doesn't want to do? I understand that she might feel a bit guilty because she doesn't reciprocate his feelings, but he hits her, for heaven's sake. (And let's ignore the fact that he asks her if he can see her genitalia. Yes. Just like that.) On the other hand, we have Adrien, who at least is a decent human being, although fond of using some strange exclamations; and Zoe thinks she's falling in love with him after spending maybe a day with him. Insta-love.
I wasn't such a big fan of the writing style, either. There were a few repetitions that could've been taken out. Also, Zoe sometimes seems to ignore words to describe basic human feelings, while other times she knows them. She recognizes anger, but not embarrassment or hate. For most of the novel she describes tears as "water streaming down her face", and then once suddenly she calls them tears (and no, no one explained it to her, and after a few pages she goes back to calling them water). These inconsistencies bugged me.
Then, what did I like in this book? The back story. The idea of "hardware" being put into people who work and live as robots, the possibility of so many slaves being freed. Also, the ending is quite neat, and not a cliffhanger.
I'm not sure why I wasn't hooked by the story. The love triangle not being really believable (Max, really?) might have played a part in this. I'd still like to learn what happens next, but I won't be holding my breath.
As for the target audience of this book, some reviewers say it's intended for younger readers, while others recommend it to teens over sixteen. I don't think it's a very "mature" book for the subject matter. Maybe it really is a book for younger teens. Maybe you'll like this if you haven't read so many dystopian books.Cover attraction:
beautiful! I love the darker shade and the lettering of the title. It gave me the impression of a starry night, though, which isn't very fitting since almost the whole book takes place underground.