Stunning, skillful, shocking, and smoldering, this first novel in a planned trilogy will have teens talking and leave teen girls a little light headed. This is the best dystopian novel I've read all year!
From the first pages, I was mesmerized by the world Eve lives in--a girls' boarding school in the middle of nowhere that has armed guards patrolling the grounds. Are they keeping the bad guys out or the girls in? The girls all came to the school as orphans--all except for Arden, that is. She arrives at age eight and never really fits in. Arden likes to break rules and Eve has never really been friends with her.
It is the day before graduation and Eve can't wait to give her valedictorian speech. She runs into Arden near the gate and realizes that Arden plans to run away. Arden tells Eve the "truth." Eve can't believe it. She knows for sure after graduation the girls go to the building across the lake where they all learn their trades. Then the lucky ones will go to the city and live fabulous lives. That's what the teachers have always told them. They wouldn't lie, would they?
Years before a plague has killed most of the population. Cities and civilization have fallen and one man unites the people: the King. In order to make sure his subjects don't die off, the King has factories where girls like Eve are kept tied to their beds--with one job only--grow the population. At least one baby per year. They are used like farm animals and treated far worse. When Eve learns that her future will not be filled with dinner at glamorous restaurants with white napkins and high fashion gowns, she escapes that night with the help of a concerned teacher.
She heads out not knowing where she's going really, but knowing to stay out of sight because MEN are bad--MEN will hurt you, MEN are not to be trusted. She heads west and looks for signs that read 80 hoping to find Califia (California).
Eve's journey is terrifying and provocative. The King's men have a special reason to catch this runaway. The King himself fancies Eve as his own wife and wishes her to bear his offspring. Now that she's missing, the King has put a price on her head. As she's running, she is saved by a boy on horseback. She doesn't trust him because she's always been taught that MEN are bad. Caleb saves both Eve and Arden, taking them to a safe place in the forest where his band of boys hide out from the King's men.
Eve soon fits right in and meets the youngest boys, Benny and Silas, and begins to teach them to read. In a poignant scene Benny asks Eve, "Are you my mother?" The young boys are evocative of The Lost Boys in Peter Pan. The leader of the pack is mad at Eve for embarrassing him in front of the others and fighting off his advances. He wants revenge. Leif tells a hunter where Eve is and he comes and picks up Arden and Eve.
An elderly lady comes to their rescue and they are able to escape to an Underground Railroad of sorts. Eve tries to send a message to Caleb but puts everyone, including herself, in danger.
Thrilling and well-written with compelling characters, this novel really rocks! My seventeen year old daughter read it first and told me, "Mom, you better read this!!" Also, she told her non-reading friend about it, and the non-reader called her the next day to tell her, "I stayed up after two in the morning reading Eve! I love it!"
Readers who liked The Hunger Games and The Forest of Hands and Teeth will love this new trilogy. I predict it will shoot up the Best Seller list and become the new Twilight. Are you listening, Hollywood? This would make a great movie!
Reviewed by: Pamela Thompson, Library Media Specialist, Texas, USA
Visit Pamela's ya novels blog at http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/