I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
As someone who is in the science field, I love books that deal with experimentation. It doesn’t really matter what kind, but I have a bias towards books that talk about genetic modifications. However, I am also the most critical of these novels; I do not like it if the author stretches scientific facts too far. There is a limit to grandiose embellishments, especially when one is describing scientific research. Nevertheless, I always become excited when I come across a book on this topic.
Sunnie is a happy-go-lucky girl who doesn’t know that her life is extraordinary. She lives at Camp Holliwell with her “uncle”, a government funded scientist. Here, she is constantly tested on various aspects by a league of doctors and scientists – who all assure her that this is to make sure she is healthy. And Sunnie has believed them – until she meets someone who tells her otherwise. Not only does she find out that she doesn’t have a terminal illness, she also discovers that there is a whole world outside of Camp Holliwell, a world that she is unable to visit. The more Sunnie investigates, the more she begins to realize that she is just a prisoner and a test subject at Holliwell. And the experimentation that she is being subjected to is definitely not normal. Sunnie needs to figure out what the truth is, but more importantly, she needs to find a way to break out of this facility … before the next experiment kills her.
I’ve read a lot of YA fiction novels, but this one definitely stood apart in my mind! I loved every minute of it and could not put it down! There are so many things that the author did right, so I’m just going to list them all out!
- Character development: This was one of the best things about this novel. The main character sounds like a naive child at first, but as more and more becomes revealed to her, she takes on so much depth and becomes as cognizant and as mature as an adult. Her journey to that point makes complete sense as you read about her experiences, and it makes you love her all the more. All of the other characters also have their different personalities, each with complex layers that grow and shift throughout the narrative. This made the story that much more compelling to read. The one thing I will say is that the character of Georgie could have had a little more work done; she just came off as a random do-gooder, with nothing to really make her stand out. If she was given just a tad bit more depth, it would have made the story even better than it already is! The only other objection I have is to the description of Sunnie as “hot”. I’m sure she is, but it was just so …. unnecessary, and it just made the novel seem a bit childish at times. It also didn’t fit with her character, who is so innocent and sweet.
- The plot: This is one of those stories where everything works and everything makes sense. While it is fast-paced, I never once found myself confused by the avenue that the author took with the book. All of the explanations for things fit within the framework the author created, and this allowed me to just enjoy the novel! It was also extremely fast in its pace – so much happened in this one book that I couldn’t even imagine what would be left for the sequel! The action scenes, dialogue, and overall flow of the novel was great.
- The science stuff: The author did not spend too much time or detail explaining the scientific mechanisms behind everything. Which is actually a good thing, in this case. If she had, it would have slowed down the whole story and it wouldn’t have added anything useful to it. It also allowed the author to have some free reign over how creative she wanted to be in her depictions of experimentation; the more details that are given, the more you need to stick to the actual facts of biology and physics. By glossing over them, the author kept the story tight and focused, while still making it appealing enough for sci-fi fans.
Overall, this novel was great. It was action-packed, and had a whole host of amazing characters. It is definitely one of the more memorable YA books I have read, and I cannot wait for the sequel to come out!