Rating: 3.5 stars
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Orbit via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Review: This is one of those books that I went into not really sure what to expect, yet after I finished, I thought ‘well, that’s not what I expected’. Which is kind of strange, right? But not bad. It wasn’t bad at all. It was just…unexpected.
So, it’s dystopian. The premise is the world has been falling apart for a myriad of reasons, most of which have to do with the fact that we ignored climate change and sea levels rose. And the soil has been stripped and won’t grow anything anymore. Disease has spread as populations have become denser. There are too many people and not enough of anything. The government has taken unconscionable measures to keep things under control, and now they have begun to regard citizens as less than human, treating those in the lower classes as vermin. Those who are privileged enough to get some special treatment have to hide in their very small homes in order to stay safe.
Lalla, a teenager who has never known the world as it is now, has a father with a great deal of power and reach, so she has not starved or gone cold or been homeless. But her life is so sheltered that she hasn’t really grown up. For years, her father has been working on a backup plan, for when things get completely untenable, but she knows nothing other than it involves a ship, and he has been interviewing future passengers. The ship can house hundreds, and he will take as many as he can, but only the right kind of people. Lalla doesn’t know what the right kind are, or where the ship is going, or when (or if!) they’ll ever get on it. If it was up to her mother, they wouldn’t at all. She keeps putting it off because she has hope that things will improve.
Finally, the situation in London degrades to a point that Lalla’s father believes it is time to go. No more waiting. It is time get on the ship and move forward. Catastrophe strikes when they trying to embark, and Lalla is left to deal with the consequences on a ship about which she knows nothing. Her father tells her nothing. She doesn’t know where the ship is going or what the plan is, but she feels something isn’t right. In the end, it is her mother she takes after, not her father.
So much of this book is in Lalla’s head. It isn’t suspenseful or thrilling. It is sometimes sad, always melancholy, and occasionally frustrating because Lalla is a privileged immature teenager (enough said, yes?). But. Despite the lack of significant action, I couldn’t stop reading it. It was compelling. Lalla annoyed me to the very end, but I loved her persistence. And while I didn’t expect the ending, her choice made me quite proud of her.
A good story. Not hopping up and down good, but a solid read.