Saturday, June 4, 2011
Translated by Anthea Bell
Candlewick Press, 2006
Read for Overlooked YA Book Battle.
This is a French dystopian novel. Helen, Milena, Milos, and Bartolomeo live in sex-segregated boarding schools but a chance meeting sends Milena and Bartolomeo fleeing from their horrid life and Helen and Milos searching for them. Milos ends up caught by the government and trained to fight in an arena for the pleasure of governmental officials while the other three work for the resistance movement.
I feel bad that I couldn't identify more with any of the characters. I mean, I wanted the government to fall, I think, but I wasn't invested as I was, for example in The Hunger Games. I'm not sure if that is part of the original style or an effect of the translation but I didn't love this book.
I mostly wanted more background on how the repressive government came into power, what they were originally rebelling about, and about why people are forced to fight in the arena. But I also wanted to know more about the parents of the four main characters who all fought for the resistance. Milena and Bartolomeo's parents are discussed but not Helen's or Milos's in any detail. Also both of those couples basically fell instantly in love and while much was said about them being in love, I didn't see it.
The ending was also lackluster-another lame epilogue. I feel like I usually hate epilogues (HP7 and Mockingjay being the two other examples that spring immediately to mind as not pleasing to me).
There were some good parts. I was intrigued by the boarding schools at the beginning but they leave them fairly early. Two main groups assisted in the escape: first the consolers, women who welcome the students during very short leaves from the boarding school; second horse-men, combinations of horses and men who are very strong and loyal to the Resistance. Although the writing wasn't top-notch, I didn't have to force myself to finish it and I wanted to know how everything ended even if I was disappointed with the conclusion.
Overall: A bleak atmospheric read but lacking.
Cover: Very bleak but I would prefer two people instead of just the one in isolation.