Bingo Square: Underrepresented
This trilogy seemed to be very popular around the time I started getting into YA and dystopian novels but despite the positive reviews, I never got around to it. I think I was worried about overdoing it and burning myself out but I always meant to get around to the trilogy. It’s just other, newer books kept coming up. I finally downloaded it this year, but was trying to push myself to work through earlier downloads, so I still hadn’t started it until I saw a way to include it in Bingo.
The story itself is almost the perfect example of a well done dystopian novel. It sets up the world quickly, creates two engaging protagonists on opposite sides, who are sympathetic even if one appears to be part of an evil institution based on lies, and is tightly paced. The only issue I have with the novel (and this may be because I recently read The Grace of Kings which was a rather sprawling novel) is that the tightly contained story felt like it would have been better served by being Part One of a longer novel rather than the first book of a trilogy. While quite a bit happens, I still had a bit of a “that’s it?” reaction when I reached the end. It very much is set up for what will happen later in the series as it portrays shifting alliances, shocking revelations and potential long term goals.
I know this is normal for so many YA trilogies so I can’t complain too much or even blame the author – being released in 2011, it basically felt like every YA author at that time was forced to turn their novel ideas into trilogies. But, as tight and well written as the novel was, it still felt like the story was not actually that much plot for a full novel. I mean, technically, The Hunger Games could have ended at book 1 and been a more or less self-contained story; same with the A Court of Thorns and Roses – readers might have wondered about the wider universes but they also could have ended without leaving too many questions about character fates. Red Rising was the beginning of a series but also had so much going on within just that first novel. In all three, there was space for more plot while also being self-contained. This one is absolutely the beginning of something else.
The main characters are Day, a teen boy from the poor side of town, that felt the test all citizens take at 10 to determine their future. While the government says these children become laborers, Day knows most of them are killed, and he escaped death to become a ghost who fights against the Republic. June, meanwhile, is the only student to ever score a perfect 1500, and is on her way to a distinguished military career. Her parents are dead and she has basically been raised by her older brother, but she is from an old, distinguished Republican family.
They live in California, which along with some other southwestern states makes up the Republic. The country is bordered by an enemy state, the Colonies, and there are also insurgent groups in the Republic, including the Patriots. Day has never aligned himself with any group, preferring to remain independent, and play more of a Robin Hood type role. It is only when his family’s house is sprayed with the dreaded plague contamination mark that he takes rash risks, which put him in greater danger of being caught.
June is a true believer in the government, raised in privilege. She often gets in trouble at school because the work is not challenging enough, leading to her creating her own unapproved coursework. After a life altering event, she graduates early and receives her first mission – to track down Day. Their interactions will end up changing even more about her life and her beliefs as she realizes that some things in her investigation don’t make sense or line up, and as active duty reveals the darker sides of her government’s methods to her.
I’m definitely going to keep reading these because as I said, it was very engaging and interesting, I just think this might have been better served as one larger novel than a trilogy.
Bingo Square: Underrepresented (author is Asian-American)