This book is festival of horrors. If I could give it negative five stars I would. If for some terrible reason you want to read it don’t read this there will be spoilers.
It’s a YA novel and as such there is a certain amount of teenage angst that has to be begrudgingly accepted. I understand that there is a formula to YA novels I have read quite a few myself, but I had just read two pretty lengthy nonfiction books, 100 pages of microbiology, and 100 pages of organic chemistry theory so I was looking for some light reading for my next book.
This book is set in the post-apocalyptic United States. The country was resettled by a group of survivors in the Appalachian Mountains and then subsequently the survivors divided into two separate nations. One ruled by women named, oh so originally, Matrus, and one ruled by men named, also very uniquely Patrus (I should have run at this point but nevertheless I stayed…like a fool! ß note from Mrs. ProwlyShark aka BlingleBells, I warned him, he would not listen). Matrus has tests that it performs on young boys at some non-defined age that deems them to be unfit or fit for life on Matrus based on threatening male traits they may or may not possess. This brings us to our protagonist who of course lost her brother to this test and is now a violent teenage girl caught in the penal system. On her way to the euthanasia labs (don’t get excited this is the only cool thing that happens) she’s offered a chance to redeem herself by saving the country as a spy by stealing back a secret egg containing unknown contents. Of course the country, who has trained soldier women known as wardens, would love to entrust its entire future to a teenage girl who is known for her inability to follow rules has been sentenced to death for outbursts of violence. My reality is suspended and surely yours is as well!
Violet goes to Patrus is forced into a marriage with another spy and is immediately briefed on their mission and is shown images of 3 wardens of Patrus who stand in their way. Let me pause to see if we can guess what happens next. If you hypothesized that young Violet finds one of the wardens attractive and will soon be in love with him, then you guessed correctly. She learns about Viggo the warden who had committed all the same crimes she committed (how romantic). Her husband plans to pin the egg stealing on Mr. Viggo. She is soon thrust into a forced friendship building exercise which leads to…more than friendship. They bond over fighting techniques and are soon in love. In the end they do steal the egg instead of Violet stealing away with Viggo and for that I offer the lightest of applauses.
Let me tell you about Violet and Viggo. The author…desperately desires for us to draw a parody between these two, and she attempts to use, what I believe she intends to be, symbolism. Let me give you the definition for symbolism:
“Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense” (https://literarydevices.net/symbolism/).
Let me tell you what symbolism is not:
- It is not we committed the EXACT same crimes
- We are interested in the EXACT same hobby (fighting)
- I have a dream that I am fighting the EXACT same people that you are, only female
This is not symbolism this is ridiculousness. This is what will cause me to bleach my brain after reading this. This is what will make me not pick up another YA novel perhaps ever again. She uses this “symbolism” throughout the entire novel. She also reminds us that Violet “finds him attractive” or “finds it attractive that he does this” or “finds his new shorts attractive” every single scene these two are a part of. I may yet email the author synonyms for the word attractive.
There is so much more about this book that is painful, but I don’t want to spoil the adventure completely for you if you are masochistic enough to pick this excuse for a story up.