I received a free e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!
This book gave me a weird sense of deja vu, probably because I had recently read Silo 49 (which was based on the Wool chronicles) (which I still haven’t read) and bizarrely, it appeared to be set in pretty much the same location. Yes, there were some differences and the thrust of the story took it in a different direction but essentially this novel was set in an underground concrete city compromised of many different levels where the people are enslaved to their jobs, big brother is always watching and the inhabitants are ruled by a military style police force who are used to oppress the masses. Sound familiar?
In fairness, despite the obvious similarities I did enjoy this book. I would say that the story is a little thin content wise but I can see that it’s set up a great story arc for books two and three.
I really liked that there are two main characters and that you get to see two different storylines progress separately. As it’s a YA book I can only assume there will be some romance between them. Both characters are quite well written so I think this will add to the story. However, I think it’s fairly easy to predict where it’s all going (my guess is, book two; they discover where people disappear to and what is really going on, and book three; they find a way out and save everyone. And fall in love. If I’m wrong please ignore the bit where I’ve said this series is predictable – clearly it’s not.)
I thought that the last quarter of the book was really fast paced and exciting but before that it could be a little sluggish. There seemed to be quite a lot of filler where different characters were invented only to have them play a very minor part later on whereas other characters were fairly anonymous despite playing a larger part.
I also found the book a little bit unbelievable, even for a fantasy universe. The main character has an ageing disorder which he has kept hidden for 15 years despite the fact he goes to school – he just hides his face under a hood. As any genetic defect is essentially punishable by death, how has no-one noticed? What happened when he was a child? Security is also remarkably lax – the main character gets to a senior ranking officials desk (and hacks his computer) simply by distracting the guards at the door – there’s no scanner or security pass needed to enter. The official doesn’t even have his own office, just a computer terminal set up next to some others in what appears to be an open plan work area. Was this just to get round the problem of access? If so, it seems quite lazy writing. Also, surely the security cameras would have picked up the footage of the two main characters talking to each other in the area, referring to each other by name and then hot footing it out of there?
Overall, I found this book a little formulaic and with a few plot holes which really spoilt it for me. It’s one redeeming feature was some really excellent writing – but some bits are much better than others. From the way that book two has been set up I imagine it will be a lot better and will distance itself from obvious comparisons to very similar books.
Overall rating: 5/10