My Rating: 1.5 Stars
It was hard for me, at first, to figure out why everyone seems to love the second and third books in these series and the first one got awful reviews. Because, to me, all three of them were pretty awful.
Then it hit me.
The first book was so bad, that only the diehard fans read the sequels. And then me.
The writing in these books is beautiful. If Lauren DeStefano wanted to write a sappy romance novel, she would probably hit it off pretty big. The thing that brings these books down to the level that they are is that there is absolutely no believability in this world. A dystopian future where girls die at 20 and boys die at 25 (exactly). On their 20th and 25th birthdays respectively, their body somehow succumbs to a virus that kills them. This is just so ridiculous. Maybe if they had been suffering from this virus their whole lives, and then around that age their body’s normally gave way, but it can’t be exactly. You can’t live to be 19 years and 364 days old and then drop dead from a disease.
These books also feature polygamy. I didn’t find this part so hard to read, like over reviewers. The thing that stunned me about this was that we are expected to believe that in this day and age, we have digressed enough to the point where, once again, men are considered the superior gender and women are only useful for child-bearing. We are supposed to believe that women just sat down and took this and didn’t fight it at all.
The biggest fault of believability in these novels was the idea that North America was the only continent left in existence. The polar ice caps melting and World War 3 has left everyone but NA underwater. First, the main part of the novel takes place in Florida. If this were true, Florida would be one of the first areas in North America to sink. Secondly, what happened to the higher altitudes? The Alps just sunk underwater? North America is still on the surface while Sweden is at the bottom of the ocean? Seriously?
Now I know this whole North America being the only thing left thing is explained away by the end of the series, but the fact that so many reviewers didn’t believe it leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, the Americans wouldn’t believe it either. Maybe some people in America aren’t so gullible that they’ll let their president take away their history books and replace them with his own ideas? Maybe some people in America aren’t so gullible as to blindly believe that North America is the only place left standing? Maybe, just maybe, all American’s aren’t complete idiots.
The one other quam I had with these books was that each book took one step forward and two steps back. In the first book, it took Rhine the entire novel (and the timeframe of a year) to finally escape. That time was filled with images of pretty wives, dresses, candies. In the second book, Rhine finally escapes and by the end, ends up exactly where she started. In the third book, she escapes again, and once again, ends up exactly where she started. These books are less about Rhine’s adventures and more about her changing her mind and not doing the things she is so set on doing.
This is not a post-apocalyptic adventure, it is a distorted vision of a gifted author’s sad fantasy.