This is yet another YA dystopian fiction novel. This one takes place near some border (pretty sure it’s Canadian). It is the first in a series, and I will definitely not be reading the rest. Also, YA authors, I’m tired of series. Is it that hard to write one good stand-alone book?
In short: It’s not like there was anything wrong with this book. There just wasn’t anything right, either. The writing is really clunky (I am pretty sure some of these paragraphs were “what not to do” examples in my high school creative writing textbooks). The characters are flat and boring. Plus, Hall does that annoying thing where she unnecessarily makes up words to sound more sci-fi (“digim” for “picture,” “creds” for “dollars”) – Star Wars novels do this a lot, but they’re Star Wars novels, you know? Made-up words do not create an interesting world all by themselves. Overall, the world was not particularly well-developed or believable – when is this set? How is it possible that all of these countries have different names? How is the government simultaneously so tyrannical and so incompetent? And WHY did all of the “world-building” happen in the form of a pop quiz? The other big problem is that this book requires the reader to be concerned about the characters, which is impossible because a) we know nothing about any of them, nor believe anything they say because they are all painfully insincere, and b) you never believe that their world is actually dangerous. Oh no, they might have to wear jumpsuits? Ugh. Add to that the predictable ending and the lazy dialogue, and you’re in for a real treat. I might have liked it in middle school, though, because I was a big “X-Files” fan and would have loved the over-the-top paranoia about the government.