Target Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Lauren Oliver's books have been on my to-read list for ages, but I had such a backlog that I had to let my younger sister read this first. I'm nice like that :-)
Lena is a 17-year-old girl living in Portland, America. She has an older sister, a best friend, a home and a family. The one major difference between her world and this one? She lives in a world where love is forbidden. Now only 95 days from the procedure that will make her to unable to love, she does the last thing she imagined she'd do, she falls in love.
One of the things I really really liked about this book was Lena herself. She was so refreshingly normal; she screamed, she cried, she raged, she felt and most importantly she loved and this made the book all the more human and believable. No one about to undergo such a traumatic procedure and to suffer what she suffered would just breeze through life. That's not how life works, and too many authors have fearless heroine's and it drives me nuts! Lauren is not guilty of this, simply put, she's a very clever and very emotional writer.
The story itself was really good for the most part and the world building was fantastic. It did slow down a little at times and I found myself sort of drifting a little, but this is a minor complaint, as with any first novel in a series there is quite a bit of description of both characters and back story.
To me it was the concept itself that really dragged me in and I could feel the closed in feeling eminating from Lena, Alex and Hana.
The relationship between Lena and Alex reminded me a little of Romeo and Juliet; the forbidden meetings and hiding how they felt, were very reminiscent of Shakespeare's tragedy. Other than that slight similarity in the relationship though, everything else is completely different, and very beautiful.
I really felt for Lena, I couldn't help it, the frustration of having the people who should be closest to you treating you like an almost stranger must be incredibly painful and very difficult to deal with.
On a more personal basis, the idea of being devoid of love just seems empty to me, and this book really brought the concept home. No matter how much heartache I might suffer in my life, I would never wish to be without emotions, the idea wouldn't even compute in my brain, so to read this felt like experiencing a nightmare. Im slightly claustrophobic and this book really made me feel it, whether your trapped physically or emotionally, it is a devastating thing to feel.
Anyway, I'll stop my babbling and just say, this is an amazing novel with some truly frightening ideas, a beautiful love story, some thrilling action and a lesson in love that I will never forget.
I can't wait for the next in the series.