When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
This is a hard review to write. I enjoyed this book, but so much of what I enjoyed is spoiler material, so I find myself grasping for things to say that could convey my jumble of feelings. I’ll mercifully try to keep it to the point.
This book was a bit disarming. I read the synopsis, so I had an inkling of what to expect, but once I started reading, my expectations and the reality were very different. The premise is pretty implausible, but Bracken’s execution made it easy to overlook that.
This was a dark and scary world. I don’t want to live in Ruby’s world. The more I read, the more uneasy I became, because I never knew what was going to come at me/Ruby next. I never once felt “safe” and that worked for me. It kept it interesting. Personally, I like dark reads – the darker, the better. I prefer them to lighthearted ones, so keep that in mind when trying to decide if this is a book you’d like to read.
I appreciated Bracken’s writing style. Often, authors will dump a crapload of info on you in order to set up their world, but Bracken gives it to you a little at a time. This has the added bonus of making the aforementioned darkness easier to digest. You get snippets here and there that paint a pretty grim picture, but when the time comes to really get Ruby’s story, it’s pretty brutal. There will be no coddling.
I’m on the fence about Ruby. For the most part, I thought her story and circumstances were tragic, but just when I’d start warming up to her, she’d do something stupid. She made a lot of mistakes. It became more and more frustrating and it was hard to accept a lot of her choices. Conversely, you need to keep in mind that she was removed from her home at 10 and she spent 6 years being physically battered and severely mentally and emotionally abused at an internment camp. It’s easy for me to see what choices she should have made, but I wasn’t in her shoes. She’s little more than a child in a teen’s body and her lack of love, guidance, and education made it easier for me to overlook some of her follies and ultimately cut her some slack.
While a lot of things in this book will make your heart and mind race, I did find it to be a bit long. I felt like it didn’t really hit its stride until about the midway point. I was pleased that for the first half, there was little to no focus on romance. I knew it was coming, but at least there was no insta-love, so hallelujah. When the romance did finally come, I wasn’t overly impressed with it or the love interest, but at least he’s not a douchebag, so again, hallelujah.
There were a couple of side characters that, for me, really made the story. They seemed to burrow themselves right into my cold, black heart and I was emotionally invested in them from beginning to end. I ran the gamut of emotions with these two, from laughter to tears. Had they not flanked Ruby and her love interest throughout the story, I would have enjoyed this a lot less.
Be forewarned, this book ends on a brutal cliffhanger. The fates of all the major players hang in the balance, so if you’re not a cliffhanger type of person, you may want to wait for book #2, which is slated to be released in December 2013.
In conclusion, this is a solid story and in comparison to the generic YA that’s out there, this is a very solid story.
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