There were no charges. There was no trial. There will be no escape.
It’s been a while since my last book review. I dedicated most of November to NaNoWriMo, although I didn’t mean to NOT read, it just sat in the back of my mind until the opportunity hit for me to get into a new book. That opportunity being a two-hour car ride.
Before I start I just want to say I debated buying this book for a while. The idea caught my attention but the cover calling it the “next Hunger Games” effected my decision. Needless to say I eventually gave in and…I’ll just leave that to the rest of the review.
Seventeen-year old Becca Greenfield wakes up in a car, hands-tied and masked with no idea what’s happening to year. After getting beaten for asking question, Becca discovers she’s been taken to a maximum-security prison for kids on death row.
Back in her small home town is her twin sister Cassie, who just believes her sister to be staying out too late, until things get serious. Cassie does what she can to get help but those in the town like to ignore the problems and listen to those in charge, feeding them lies and a fantasy.
While Becca tries to survive daily beatings, fights, and losing those around her, Cassie forgets about following the “rules” of the town in order to find her sister.
Reading the main synopsis of the book, then looking at the cover I couldn’t help but wonder HOW/WHY did it relate to the Hunger Games. The kids don’t fight each other to the death (they do fight, but not in the Hunger Games style) and are tested daily on basic knowledge because they are a “menace to society.”
It didn’t make sense to me at first. What’s the purpose of training them if they’re going to die any way? I thought, maybe they’re trying to make them into better people and release them later on. When you finally get to the end and discover the reasoning behind it all it just…didn’t settle well with me.
And there’s no reason to not tell them the overall plan.
Cassie and Becca are considered opposites: Cassie being the responsible, hard-working one and Becca, the rebellious. After losing their parents in different ways they do what they can to survive but the “cell” they live in doesn’t allow much. I’ll get more into the cell later.
They are likable and have their good and bad traits. However I think I connected to Becca better. Not because of her personality but the situation she got thrown into. She goes through HELL and it’s not hard to sympathize with her.
As for the secondary characters none left a big impression on me except for Nate: a higher-up’s son who wants to help Cassie find her sister and Ms. Strep: who runs the prison and tries to keep her business-hard tone on for the kids but softens up around Becca and Cassie.
When we see the first execution of a character in the prison it didn’t leave much of an impact. Becca said she felt close to this character and things like that but I didn’t feel that.
I’ll get this out-of-the-way: it’s a dystopian novel, which took me off-guard from the general information given about the book.
The beginning is a bit confusing as Cassie describes the cell they live in. It’s basically that, just bigger, and their main focus is agriculture (see where the Hunger Games vibe comes in?) As long as they don’t leave the cell, everything is good. They don’t even have guards at the gates because everyone is that “well-behaved.” And there are other cells, but everyone stays where they are because that’s what’s expected of them.
It’s a bit sickening at times. In order for a couple to have a child, someone else has to die to maintain the population, but they actually encourage suicide…which is a segway leading to the next section.
I like to let people know what they’re getting into. Being a YA novel none of the language gets too harsh, there’s little romance (should-be none), but the violence is up there at a times.
However there are talks of rape and suicide. One character in particular was raped by a horrible teacher. People are talked into suicide when life gets too hard on them or are believed to have no place in society; as they say there are “other options,” which is definitely something people should know about before reading.
One other thing I want to mention is what’s pictured on the cover: a dragonfly. Becca and Cassie see them and Becca even uses them as a sign of hope whenever getting beaten down, which I liked, but that’s kind of where it ends. I love dragonflies so I can’t complain about their presence, but they came in and out. The cover is great though.
I enjoyed the overall story and having the twins as the main protagonists (it flips from one point of view to another) helped since they are likable. The mystery of the cell and the purpose of the prison kept me reading but it wasn’t a long read. There are 300 some pages but it’s quick.
But the book is confusing at times and characters we should care about just don’t get to that level. The way the book ended makes me think there’s going to be a sequel, but according to some that’s not going to happen.
Let me put it this way: if there is a sequel I’ll read it, eventually. I would like to know how this story ends entirely. It’s not the worst book I’ve read, but I did expect more out of James Patterson. The writing has its moments, but it’s nothing spectacular.
I will recommend this book, but keep an open mind that things might not go the way you think. And that may not be for the best.