Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.
Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.
The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?
It starts in media res. Seriously, it's the greatest, most frustrating, thing ever. It made me determined to find out when that opening scene actually happened in chronological order. I was fooled so many times, it was unbelievable.. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, BAM. I got it all wrong. I was constantly struggling to keep up with what was real and what was not. It was fast-paced, filled with action, page after page of excitement. I loved every second of it. And I'm so glad I have the ARC of the second book. I will be starting that right away.
I really admire Thalli. It seems a little odd at first. Because she is an anomaly and it's not like she wanted to be. So why should I love her for something she didn't choose to be? But she has this depth that allows her to be more than just an anomaly. She cares for others, questions things, isn't afraid. Okay, she's human, she's afraid sometimes. But she gets past that. In the end, she knows what really matters. So I appreciated that. I love the scenes with her and John. It surprised me at first. I didn't expect all the references to God. But I liked it.
The other main character is Berk. I really liked him. He's a Scientist so he has certain privileges. And he really uses them to help Thalli and John and Rhen. I'm not sure that I'd consider him book boyfriend material because the romance wasn't like that at all. They don't know what love is. It doesn't get steamy or romantic. But it is very sweet. I loved it.
After that, there's really only John. I don't want to reveal too much about him. Getting to know him was one of my favorite things about the book. But he's great and he introduces new concepts to Thalli and Berk. That was great.
This is a post-apocalyptic dystopian. It's not entirely new: pods, contaminated air, nuclear war, etc. But this book took that concept and made it something entirely new. Specialization is not really new, but the specific jobs (musician, botanist, logical person) and the way they can't socialize with anyone outside of their generation? That's different, is it not?
Like I said before, this is a pretty fast-paced book. The paperback is 303 pages of nonstop STUFF that is HAPPENING. It was great. There wasn't a dull moment. Thalli was constantly on the verge of being annihilated. I was constantly wondering when is she going to die? Or, at least, be in the face of death. This book was told in the first person. This is usually a sign that the narrator won't die. But I have read books where the narrator dies. So! There was that possibility wandering through my mind.
Overall, I loved it. I was constantly questioning EVERYTHING, right alongside Thalli as she tried to figure out what was real and what was right.
Rating: 4 stars
Why: it kept me involved and concerned and it was exciting. So exciting.
Recommendation: sci-fi lovers and those who don't mind references to Christianity. I mention this because it mind offend some people.
"Death is only the beginning." (p. 2)
"I have never met anyone new." (p. 47)
"I was born in a different world. In a place called California." (p. 56)
"I wake up thinking of John and Amy. And love. I try not to think of Berk and Thalli and love. That is too ridiculous. Primitive. And pointless. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, I am scheduled for annihilation." (p. 72)
Side note: There are a lot of references to God and Thalli ultimately accepts this. I was surprised by this development, but I did appreciate it. It was a good way to demonstrate just what is wrong with their society. And it raises a lot of questions that will probably be asked in my new Wolfie's Wonderings. In my opinion, it is not offensive in the least. I understand if the references make you uncomfortable, but I don't think it's a valid reason to stay away from this book. But that's just me.
* A paperback was given to me in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.