Saturday, March 3, 2012


Eve has been sitting on my shelf for awhile, mostly forgotten, so when I dug it out and read the back cover, I was surprised I hadn't read it sooner. It's right up my alley, being something between a dystopia and post-apocalyptic science fiction for young adults. It recently came out in the fall of last year.

In Anna Carey's novel, a plague has wiped out civilization in North America. All that's left are empty houses in empty towns with no working utilities and a few people scattered across "New America." In the wake of the disaster, one man has set himself up as King in the City of Sand. Eve lives in an all-girls' school, preparing to graduate her twelfth year, spend four more years in specialized training, and then become a contributing member in the City of Sand. At least, that's what she believes. But the new Government has more sinister plans for Eve and the other orphan girls who attend her school, cut off from men, taught to fear and hate men, except for the King, of course. When Eve, whose name is heavily symbolic, learns the truth, she escapes into the wild, which she has not been trained for and where there are few supplies. Eve must face all her fears in order to survive. There are roaming gangs of men who are just like everything she's been taught. There's the boy, Caleb, who seems like he wants to help. And then there's the King, the one man Eve has not been taught to fear but who should be feared the most because he wants Eve for a very special purpose.

This book has all the elements of great post-apocalyptic fiction, going the route of disease rather than world war. It's believable, and really, there's little science fiction to it. The world is recently devastated so that there are a lot of recognizable pieces of present day reality in it, but it's seen through the eyes of children who grew up after the devastation, so there's this great mix of familiarity and foreignness. This is the first of a trilogy, and I look forward to seeing how the author will expand the world she's built. I don't expect it to be the next Hunger Games, which was far more complex. But it's a book with heart and carefully created characters who make you feel with them. Friendship grows out of misunderstanding. Romance blossoms where fear was once rooted. Minor characters play their roles so well that when they are gone, you feel the loss. Two little boys in the story took on the face of my son, and when that happens, bring me the tissue box! Happily, those boys don't die, but others in the story do. Bravo to the author for not pulling punches, even if we only knew the characters for a few pages. She caused me to care in just those few pages, and I felt deeply with Eve at the loss.

No bad language. No over-the-top graphic violence. No sex scenes, though Eve is rescued from attempted rape. The story, though it has serious thematic material, is more hopeful than gritty.

If I had to rate anything about the book negatively, I'd say the romance is, perhaps, a bit weak. It's fast and, therefore, loses some believability in light of the fact that Eve has been taught her whole life to fear men. The author tries to ease Eve into it and us into believing it. It works okay but not seamlessly.

Overall, this is a fun, good, fast read worth three and a half stars.

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