Full of potential but unfortunately, disappointing. The world-building is great, the dystopian society is realistic but it has major flaws. It takes a lot for me to give a book a 2-star review but this book hit me with problem after problem that prevented me from giving it at least a 3-stars.
One is the writing technique. There were many instances where the author stated the obvious. So many times I was confronted with sentences like ‘ I need to go home. “I need to go home,” I say, out loud this time’
Here’s a tip for new writers. Readers know something has been said aloud by the use of speech marks. Just saying “I said/say” is the best thing you can possibly do for dialogue. Too many descriptive words like ‘whisper’, ‘mumble’, ‘shout’ can be distracting to the reader and stop the flow of the story. It is annoying to readers if they are being patronised and a writer should never state the obvious unless it is actually needed – for example when writing sarcasm. If the reader knows what is happening and can understand the story without the sentence, cut it.
Another tip, if you plant something that can be a danger or issue for the protagonist later on, and constantly referred to it every chapter, then you don’t need to explain the whole thing again. In this case, we as the reader know that the artefact cannot be taken by the Official, we know the danger of Officials raid homes looking for artefacts, we do not need to be reminded what the danger is as it is happening. Show it, don’t tell it.
The world building was excellent. In the protagonist’s world, everything is chosen for you from who you will marry, the number of children you’ll have, your career and when you will die. It has endless of probabilities and scenarios that the author could use. The world is believable, one I don’t want to experience and one I would fight to change. That brings me to my next issue. Cassia, the protagonist.
Now ok, things happen that affect her directly but to me, she seems more passive and observant than active. Apart from the love triangle she throws herself into, she does not struggle emotionally or physically. Quite frankly, her hands do not get dirty as she fights for what she wants.
In her world, everything is chosen for you by the Officials. They choose who you will marry, how many children you’ll have, your job, the day you are going to die. Here’s the problem I have, the world is full of things the writer could have used to make things tougher for the protagonist to accept.
Cassia does express wishes to change the system but she doesn’t do anything to make it a possibility until the end of the book where she specifically ignores a direct order from the Officials. However, it seemed like the decision was made out of a tantrum, not because she wanted to change things. The only rebellion she seems to do is learn to handwrite and remember the verse of a forbidden poem, which is fine, but I think her rebellious side needed to be stronger.This has prevented me from connecting with her and want to read the next book in the trilogy.
Overall, I think the plot has a lot of potentials. I think the world is interesting and realistic but I feel the story needs to be stronger, have more emotion, character development and cut the sentences that are not needed. I do believe the author could have made this into a much better book.