The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust…and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
So, this book sounds like everything I would love: female heroine, dystopian society, rebellious teen romance. But it starts off really rough. You’re just sort of thrown into the plot at not even three chapters in. Eve discovers the terrible secret and escapes, with ease and then some. We don’t know enough about Eve to make her “escape” seem authentic. We get three pages of “Eve is awesome,” “Eve’s at the top of her class,” “Eve loves her teachers and peers,” and then all of a sudden Eve is listening to some girl Eve’s always thought was crazy. Eve’s escape lasts all of ten pages. It’s obvious that her escape isn’t the real plot. And I mean, that’s okay! I like a romance with a dystopian background as much as I like a dystopia with romantic tinges. I’ll take it, regardless. (Eve bonds with a parrot for like, a page and that made me laugh, at least.)
An important thing to mention is that Eve is afraid of men. She was brought up in her School to fear men and to see them as violent rapists. She took a course that is legitimately called “Dangers of Boys and Men” (there’s also a unit called “Domestic Enslavement,” hee). This is pretty intense, and I love that YA is reaching into a more political arena. This book, along with Unwind by Neal Shusterman, are really challenging the cliched idea of romantic YA (like Sweet Valley High or the Gossip Girl books) and delving into something that has more political and real-life undertones. (Or maybe I’m projecting. You never know.) When Eve first enters Caleb’s camp, she has to learn to live with boys. She spends a lot of her time teaching them to read, while Caleb teaches her to swim.
And now we are officially halfway done with the book. Quick question though. Why the eff does SPAM always survive the apocalypse? Who’s making it? Did that many pre-apoc people really eat that much SPAM? I mean, I know my grandpa did, but that’s just one man.
What we find out later (spoiler: Eve’s being groomed to be the King’s wife) really impacts Eve’s relationship with Caleb, and grinds down her sense of confidence. I prepared myself for YA Cliche #1: Misunderstandings, but then this book took a dark and heavy turn. I said it above, and I’ll say it again, I love that YA goes dark sometimes, and this is dark. (trigger warning: attempted rape ) Caleb is pissed and storms off, even though what happened wasn’t Eve’s fault, and I guess this is a Misunderstanding after all.
I haven’t mentioned Arden much because I want you to get to know her yourself, but she’s awesome in the aftermath. She guards Eve’s door through the night, and helps reassure Eve that what happened wasn’t her fault. It’s really awesome to see some female friendship go on in YA too, because a lot of the time the plot (and the reader, let’s be honest here) is focused on the burgeoning relationship. Anyway. Arden = ♥
This book only gets darker. Women are sold as slaves and called sows. Men are a constant threat, because the plague killed more women than men. Anna Carey, like Rae Carson, is not afraid to kill good people and it’s heart-wrenching to read and remember that these girls are only seventeen. Despite the awkward beginning, this book feels real to me. A lot goes wrong. Eve doesn’t have any special powers, not even any hunting skills. Time is not on her side and she makes a lot of mistakes. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of luck. So, in short, she’s human.
I liked this book a lot and I recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian YA with a little bit of romance mixed in (and considering how many of you like The Hunger Games…)