I like to delve into the world of teen dystopian fiction, it is an easy read, enjoyable, compulsive and always a good way to pass some time on the bus to work. (A two hour commute each way gives you lots of reading, podcast and too much thinking time). So I downloaded a sample – which is easily one of my favourite things about e-readers, and decided that I probably would enjoy it.
The premise is that teens who commit crimes are ‘Slated’, that is they have their minds wiped, are placed into a new family and given a second chance. So, of course, the immediate question which springs to mind is “What have they done?” “Where have they come from?” and finally “Did they deserve that?”, as always, the protagonist in this situation is a bit special, a bit different (boy, did I get sick of reading the phrase “Kyla, you’re different”), and then they set out to bring down the whole corrupt system with the help of some friends along the way in a three book series.
Sorry, that sounds snarky, it isn’t my intention, it is just these things always follow the same path and generally, Book 1: sets the scene, gives you some background to the world, the party line on how it was set up, what it was meant to achieve, how things work there. Book 2: The protagonist gets pissed off, all the bad things of the world fall on their heads, they are betrayed, they end up trusting someone they thought wasn’t trustworthy, things move on with the love triangle. They start to find out how corrupt the world really is. Third Book: All out war, people die, things get messy and finally you discover just how rotten the whole system is. Ultimately, the protagonist is irrevocably changed, takes the safe choice of partner from the love triangle and saves the world.
So why did I keep reading? I genuinely wanted to know Kyla’s story, where she came from, how she got where she was. I guessed probably about 50% of the plot, which is impressive for me – apart from the one murder mystery I read, where I had it worked out in the first chapter – and in some ways Kyla was someone you could relate to. Mostly, however, she was a too precocious/unusual, a bit too special. The first book overall was great, loved it and I couldn’t wait to read the second one. I thought the writing was OK, character development good on the main character, but a bit patchy on everyone else – they were all either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It didn’t really give complexity of character to any more than three characters.
The second book was weird, Kyla flip flops about in her opinions so much, she suddenly changes allegiances without much explanation of why, she is inconsistent – although that is probably a truer reflection of a real person – but it just didn’t sit quite right with me, and I had to force myself to the end so that I could find out what was happening. There just weren’t enough answers, it was just verbalisation of things you had already worked in the first book.
The third book had a lot of action, but in a really good way and finally questions are being answered! This helped me to get a a better sense of the key characters motivations and got me back into reading it for pleasure. However, a fair proportion was quite predictable, like the traitor in their midst.
Sometimes in these third books I get a sense that the author isn’t quite sure how to finish and throws in loads of action to give them thinking time – (no judgement! I really can’t write, you should read the dire first half of the book I am semi working on), whereas in this it seemed to all be necessary and leading to something. It was probably one of the stronger third books that I have read.
The ending was nice – as they always are, but I didn’t quite feel satisfied by the books at all. I think I need to learn that I am allowed to stop reading when I get bored, or that I am allowed to skip to the end to find out what is happening if I want to just finish the book. (There are so many books I wish I had just done this with). After all, there are only so many great, life changing books in the world and I want to have time to read those and not just force myself to finish reading something for the sake of it. In terms of rating overall… I am between 2 and 3 stars, so let us say 2.5. A good addition to the teen dystopian lexicon, but a bit too predictable and tedious for me at times.