Rating: 3 Stars
Synopsis via Goodreads:
She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
Let me start by saying that I picked this book up solely on the fact that it is written by Amy Plum. I did not read the synopsis; I mean, look at that cover. You can take a pretty good guess what it’s about by that cover alone. Dystopian, check; strong female protagonist, check; on the run and meets boy, check; etc, etc . . .
And when I started reading the first few chapters, I was annoyed. Firstly, because nothing was lining up for me and it just didn’t make sense. Juneau believes that WWIII has already happened, while Miles is living in L.A., where nothing has changed. I was pondering if this was going to be a parallel universe kind of novel, where Miles is in one universe, where everything is the same as it is here, and Juneau was in a parallel one. But twas not so. Instead, we discover that Juneau has been lied to her whole life by her clan, and that there has been no WWIII.
While the first little bit of the book left me skeptical as to if I was even going to finish it, it did pick up. I’m still not crazy about the . . . well . . . storyline, unfortunately. The plot to me is dense, and while a good plot should be a little dense, there was almost too much of it here. We’re switched from two point-of-views every other chapter – Miles’s and Juneau’s – and it got a little confusing.
To me, it was off-putting. While I’m trying to be encompassed in Juneau’s story and her view on the world – however wrong she might be – I’ve also got Miles’s POV to deal with, which is truly the exact opposite of Juneau’s. It was confusing, too-dense, and a little annoying. I don’t know who to believe, what world this really is, until a few chapters into it.
Also, Miles pissed me off from the get-go.
I think his character can be summed up pretty well by the first sentence of the first chapter in Miles’s POV:
“As I have explained, I caught your son cheating on his final exam,” Ms. Cochran, my English teacher, makes a face like she smells something rotten as she holds up my minuscule rolled-up crib sheet.
In other words, he’s a douche.
Miles is smug, rude, and thinks the world revolves around him. He also later admits to knowing all the answers to the final, but just wanted the thrill of cheating. And then he expects Daddy to pay off the school so he can stay until graduation – WHICH IS ONLY A FEW MONTHS AWAY – so he can go to Yale.
His character doesn’t get much better. For most of the novel, he’s rude and thoughtless to Juneau, only using her to prove to his father that he’s not as dumb as his actions have lead us all to believe (LIES! LIES I TELL YOU).
When Daddy isn’t able to do that and Miles gets expelled, Daddy tries to teach him a lesson by making him work for minimum wage (WAY TO GO DAD). But Miles gets his $500 Louie Baton panties in a twist about that and decides he has to find a way to show his dad that he’s not as dumb as he seems and goes off to freakin’ Chicago to track down the girl his dad is looking for. (Because that’s not dumb at all, apparently.)
And oh, guess what? Even though Chicago is, ya know, kind of freakin’ huge, with a lot of people milling around, what happens?
Miles finds Juneau.
Miles’s character doesn’t really get better until almost the very end, when he finally starts to believe and trust Juneau.
One Two things this book actually has going for it is 1.) Juneau and 2.) the romance.
Juneau’s character fits perfectly into the dystopian kind of novel, because she has to. She’s like Cassie from The 5th Wave and Lynn (at the beginning) from Not a Drop to Drink. And it’s a cool parallel to see this type of character strolling the streets of modern day Chicago.
The romance was nice in how it wasn’t all consuming. This would barely even fit into a romance novel, in my opinion. It’s there, but extremely light and realistic. When it does happen, it feels real. Not in anyway forced.
But I do have to say I think there could have been more of it, or at least some more attraction going on. Because it did feel like there was suddenly ATTRACTION, and then there was suddenly KISSING, and then there was ROMANCE. And I’m just kind of like: where did THAT come from? I get that they’re hormonal teenagers – and the fact that Juneau has never seen any other guys besides the one or two in her clan – but it did feel a little awkward when it did happen.
That kind of sounds like I’m contradicting myself, huh? But what I’m trying to say is that while it does feel like there is some natural chemistry between Miles and Juneau, I think it was too light. I think there needed to be something more before then, like maybe some hate going on between them. Because while they don’t particularly like each other, and to each of them the other is just a means to an end, they don’t seem to really feel anything for each other until the hormones kicks in.
Before they kiss, I would have liked to have been hoping for it to happen. But when it did, I just didn’t really care. I knew it was coming, but it wasn’t like I was waiting for it or anything. It was uneventful, boring.
This wasn’t my favorite, I’ll tell you that. But it wasn’t bad either. Just not a really memorable read for me (though I think we all know by now that I’ll still read the sequel).