| Publication Date: October 2nd 2012 | Publisher: Bloomsbury | Book Depository | Goodreads | Facebook |
When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die. Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from? A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart.
I was immediately attracted to this book. I was in the library, just browsing, when I seen the purple spine. Purple is one of my favourite colours, just a little fact for you guys. I picked up the book and looked at the cover. LOOK AT THAT COVER. It is beautiful and purple , the cracked earth and the dome make it look super apocalyptic / dystopian / sci-fi that I had to pick it up. When I got home and did a little research in it on Goodreads, I found out that it was in fact a book that had been recommended to me many times. I was really excited to get into the book.
One of the aspects I enjoyed was the controlling society of the novel. This strict Government was very quick to punish its citizens. People were fined when they were, in the eyes of the government, using up too much precious oxygen needlessly. Things that you could be fined for were; if you are walking too fast, or running / exercising, you are taking up more oxygen and will be fined. The book also talked about babies being strapped into their cribs so they can't move around and take up so much oxygen. Couples cant even make love, only the wealthy ones can afford it, as it too requires the use of an expensive amount of oxygen. This controlling society was so strict it was shocking. I didn't get to see enough of the society, in my opinion in the book, and would have liked to have seen more.
I also found it interesting that air is distributed in tanks and Pod inhabitants can only venture outside of they pass pod security. The Government controls so many aspects of everyone's lives in the novel. They have the control of schools, where they give people shots / injections on a daily basis to lower their consumption of oxygen. They control the amount of oxygen and the levels of oxygen in each area of the pod and as a result literally control the air the people breathe. I thought the use of the "Pads" which sound like iPads or tablet computers to keep watch in citizens, monitor and track their movements was interesting. These pads also had to be on the person at all times as a form of identification.
The society was divided into Premiums and Auxiliary, the higher and lower classes. The book was told in three points of view, a chapter from each of our main characters. Bea and Quinn were friends from the pod. Although Quinn is a higher class Premium, he has always been friends with the lower class Auxiliary Bea. Bea was a good character for me. I liked her but found her very frustrating at times as I felt she could be quite unobservant and foolish. I didn't really enjoy reading about her moaning about her unrequited love for Quinn, as I was constantly thinking "If you like him, why don't you just tell him already?". I really liked the relationship between Maude & Bea, where the protective older relationship was reversed as Bea took Maude closer to her and protected her from others.
Quinn was a character I did not like at all. He was very shallow and vapid. He also came across as a little unobservant and self obsessed at times. One of my least favourite parts of the book was when in Quinn's point of view chapter there was this huge, long paragraph of him just looking at Alina's butt and sexualising her body. It annoyed me so much that he was so sexually obsessed about someone he did not even know.
Alina was a member of the resistance, an organisation that wants to remove the government and grow back the trees. I think that here was some character development for Alina, as she grew less reluctant to having friends and letting people help her. Alina could be a very annoying, stubborn and moody character at times, but I think she may have been my favourite of the three. I liked seeing the more rebellious nature to her character as she talked about the resistance movement. I felt very unengaged with the main trio, as the way the POV's were written made me feel distanced from them and unconnected to the characters.
The side characters of the book were very good but I wished we had seen more of them. Maude Blue had one of the most interesting back stories of the entire book and I wish we had seen more of her. I loved her quirky nature and her "no nonsense" attitude at times. I felt she was such a good character. Petra, the leader of the resistance was a character I really disliked. Petra, which comes from the Greek word for Stone, was an accurate name for her. Like her name, she was also cold, cruel and a little manipulative.
The plot of this book started very well for me, but it fell short from the middle of the book and continued to flat line until the end. The plot, although a very unique and interesting concept, did not live up to my expectations. There were times when I felt a scene in the novel could have been executed better or would have been more exciting if the author had lingered on more of the details. A lot of the plot felt like aimless wandering through wastelands outside the pod, without any real direction as the plot was getting nowhere. I felt myself build up this resistance organisation but when we meet them they were very badly organised and were not ready at all for any kind of conflict, which was a little disappointing.
The ending of the novel was not how I'd expected. For me, the ending felt very rushed. I felt that even though very large plot twists were happening, the actual events of these plot twists were glossed over and not very detailed. I had to read the ending twice to make sure that I had grasped what had really happened. The plot was overall a little disappointing.
This book does have a powerful message. It makes you think about the conservation of our planet and how this novel could become a reality for the human race if we do not learn to conserve our natural resources and care for our planet. We should be grateful for nature, our planet and all the things we take for granted everyday. I liked this message, because although it is one we have heard many times before, it is an oldie but a goldie. People need to take action to conserve the planet instead of being ignorant.
Overall the book did have an interesting concept but fell a little flat for me. There were parts of the book I really enjoyed but other parts I did not like at all. The sequel, Resist, is being released next month and I was sent an ARC from NetGalley to review. I do feel that the sequel will be better than the first book, well I hope it is, and am going to read it very soon.
Three Star Book !
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