The first quarter of this does feel a lot like YA (as in Yet Another) dystopian world so poorly constructed that it can be overturned by one spunky teenager. You know, a society so ridiculous that our heroine's internal monologue must constantly review rules and definitions she's lived with her entire life.
Yeah, it's a lot like that. The first quarter of this is long and boring just like that would be.
So I'm ambling along, thinking that this is just the Hunger Games meets 'x' for certain values of 'x'.
Yawn. We can all see where this is going.
Butt will be kicked, boy will be kissed, and beauty will require makeup.
Which is all totally true.
And yet. And yet. Somewhere along the way Roth's plucky young lady totally won me over. And the last two thirds were a heck of a fun ride. There's a very satisfying level of violence. The secondary characters are brimming full of personality and leaping out of the page. Post apocalyptic Chicago is fantastic. The trains. The bean. The shattered glass wasteland that was once the Magnificent Mile. Fantastic.
I can't quite give it that fourth star, though. There were a few too many bumps in the last act.
Grinding the story to a dead halt for a baptism scene in a book that at no other point refers to religion directly. I get the whole Christ like philosophical bent of Abegnation. I'd be fine with her coming from a religious family, even. But bringing in Jesus as a throwaway scene that doesn't connect to any previous or later scenes doesn't feel at all coherent. It reads like the afterthought of someone who'd thank God first in the acknowledgements. Oh, wait.
The fat shaming. Gah. Evil men get to be powerful, strong, cold, imposing. The evil woman, though, she's chubby and has stretch marks. For fucks sake. I get that Roth wants to highlight how the philosophical leanings of each hou- er, distri- um, faction lead to physiological differences. She's had our narrator noting the changes in her own body. She's bored us all to tears with fashion. She's had plenty of fucking opportunities to note that Erudite would be soft and a little tubby (for instance, she might have noticed her brother filling out a bit - that would have been a great addition to the list of ways he's changed), but the one she takes is a cheap shot at the most powerful woman in the entire book. FUCK THAT.
I'm also not a big fan of Love Conquers All solutions (anyone surprised). Or the idea that love means handing someone who intends to hurt you the means to do so. As a friend of mine once said about Twilight, loving someone so much he'll stop himself from killing them is not romantic. Good God, just stop it. Stop trying to sell me on this toxic shit. Letting someone hurt you until your pain and fear make them realize how much they love you IS NOT A VALID SOLUTION TO ANY PROBLEM. I thought, going into the end sequence, that Marcus would end up convincing still-in-simulation Four to end the simulation because of the whole everything-is-upside-down form of free will his mind controlled state is in. Because, that's the solution to the problem. Not fucking crying and begging. That isn't selfless or brave, it's just stupid. Romance level stupid.
I think this is my stop. I don't want to read the sequel. But this was fun. Really, really fun.