This was pretty good overall, but it did not live up to my hopes and expectations. It fell a bit flat at times, which shocked me. Typically, I go into books blind, with no or low expectations. I don’t usually even read the book blurbs. I just pick on blind faith, and then I go along for the ride. With this book, I went in with a few expectations, and now I wish I hadn’t.
Here are some of those expectations I carried in:
1. The concept and world building would be incredible
–a. Concept was amazing. Totally brilliant.
–b. World building was mostly missing. You could argue that it wasn’t important how the world functioned, that it wasn’t inherent to the story. However, you can’t give a book nerd a novel with a fascinating concept, set in an unexpected world, and then not explain any aspect of the world to them at all. They may still enjoy the ride, but it will drive them crazy that nothing at all is explained, especially in a world where an extraordinary number of people have experienced loss and death. I just want to know why. Why?!?!? How does it work? Why the term deckers? Why can’t people just opt out of the notifications? Who is really in control? Why does nobody try to fight the system?
2. The characters will be incredible. And they are. I have no complaints with the two main characters. The side characters tend to feel a bit repetitive, which makes it harder for me to remember one from the next.
3. The plot will be fast-paced and undeniably exciting and intense. False. Absolutely false. If you want to read this, just know you’re in for a character-driven experience, not for an exciting plot.
4. There will be some unexpected twists. But there really weren’t. I even kept guessing what the twists would be, but there were really no twists at any point. Unfortunately, this led to a situation where I thought up all these brilliant twists, and then none of them ever came true, which left me disappointed, through all fault of my own. But still.
5. The audiobook will be fantastic. And it is. I recommend it.
6. The writing style and voice will be solid. And they are.
This is my first Silvera novel, though I own 2 others. I believe I will read them, but I confess I’m a bit nervous now.
One thing to prepare for, the book is full of loss on every single front. However, don’t get too anxious, because it didn’t make me cry. There were some sad undertones, but it was not nearly as emotionally resonant as I expected.
Basically every teenage character in this book has lost a parent, their whole family, their lover, and/or all of those. I’m sure it’s to help with the overwhelming theme of loss, but it becomes so many characters that have experienced loss (with no real explanations of why the world is like this), that it starts to lose value. There’s just no contrast at all, and the reality of loss is that it is made more powerful when showm head to head with its opposite. I feel less interested in every new person’s sad backstory, because it’s just another modification of the previous character’s sad backstory.
Honestly, this book is probably a 3.5 for me. I would have given it more of a 4.5, earlier on, but the last 1/4 of the book fell pretty flat for me. It didn’t even devastate me, which is a strike against it when it comes to this sort of topic.
I know the author put a lot of love and hard work into this. I can feel that in the way he writes the characters. I appreciate the diversity, as well. I still enjoyed it overall, and it made some lovely points about the ways people choose to live their lives, also, the way they don’t choose but still go on living their lives.
I would recommend this to others, because I still loved the two main characters and the concept. I just think people will enjoy the ride more if they keep their expectations low and accept it for what it is, instead of wanting it to be something it isn’t ever going to be.
Also, one final note. This could have been a terrific Sci-Fi novel, but really all those elements are left out. So basically it’s a Sci-Fi world, written like a contemporary novel. That might also be part of the reason it fell flat for me, because I love Sci-Fi and don’t like the false promise of something more exciting, only to be tricked by another contemporary novel about love, loss, and personal growth.