I received this novel as a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.
Not only is this novel the first book I finished for February, it is also my very first audiobook. I’ve never found myself able to get into listening to an audio book. Somehow, I end up zoning out and losing sense of what’s going on in the story. This time, I was determined to pay attention and give this form of story telling a good shot. Here is my review of the book as well as the experience:
Synopsis (Goodreads): In an alternate reality version of 2034, terrorist attacks on American soil continue after the events of 9/11. The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, created in 2019 to oversee domestic security, rises to unprecedented heights of power by exploiting the people’s overriding fear of terrorism.
When Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher meet during one of the bogus terrorist attacks, they discover the OCSD’s darkest secret: an antidote distributed by the government to “protect” people from the effects of imaginary toxins in the air is really being used to lull them into a state of submission. Tommy and Careen face a difficult choice: stay quiet about what they know—or risk their safety and anonymity to join an underground rebel group that’s determined to break the OCSD’s grip on the nation.
Review: There are a lot of YA dystopian novels out there and it can be hard for an author to be unique in this genre. That was not the problem here. I found this story to have a lot of great qualities to it that set it apart from other books in this genre and kept me interested throughout the story!
I really liked the way the story unfolded. There were quite a few people involved in the story, and each got their time to shine. I liked hearing from these different perspectives because it allowed the reader to see the issues through more than just one point of view; whenever I get the chance to see a fuller picture, I am appreciative of it because it doesn’t always happen. Of course, Careen and Tommy were the main characters but having other adult voices to balance out their teen ones was quite nice.
Even though the concept of the government being evil is not a new one, the story that the author presented here was very different from what you see. I liked it because it didn’t take place too far into the future; it was a world that I could easily envision happening a few years down the road. It was scary to see how trusting people are and how easily that can be manipulated by those in power. The novel had a good pace with enough intrigue to keep me guessing about how things would progress. There were a couple holes that I spotted in this book, and I hope that the author addressed them in future books … but it wasn’t a significant problem.
The one thing that I didn’t like was Careen’s personality and behaviour. While she showed independence and intelligence at certain points, most of her actions were a bit too whimsical and flighty for my taste. I didn’t really like how dependent she became on others, especially since her first introduction in this book portrayed her as having a lot of sass and spunk. I also thought the relationship between Careen and Tommy could have progressed a bit slower, allowing it to develop more richly.
I think that this novel really worked as an audio book because the story wasn’t bogged down with too many details and descriptions. The narration was done by Sarah Rogers and she did a great job of expressing all of the right emotions and matching her pace to that of the story. This is not an easy story to narrate as there are many different characters and perspectives to present, but Rogers did a great job in making them all stand out. My only comment would be that Eduardo really didn’t sound the way I expected; even though he was Spanish, the accent used was more similar to Russian. Regardless, I found it really easy to pay attention and my focus never shifted from the story.
Overall, I thought this was a really good dystopian novel that explored the idea of autonomy and the role of the government in protecting its citizens. I liked the various different characters and thought that the novel was well-paced. This book definitely works in an audiobook format, and I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a unique YA dystopian story!