Series: Eve #1
Source: Won at a YA event
Published: October 4, 2011
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust… and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
Eve opens with breath bated. The senior girls at School are about to graduate, about to leave their gated community behind and enter the real world, where they will help the process of rebuilding in the wake of the Plague. Or so they have been told. One girl knows better, knows that when men want girls to “rebuild” they want them to breed, not paint or teach or research—and she wants no part of it.
When Eve learns this truth, she sets out on an unexpected adventure to avoid that stifling fate. And this, strangely, is when the book gets less interesting. Behind the walls of the School there are secrets and there is suspense and readers can still wonder at what awaits. After those few scenes, the world-building, plot, and characterization stop progressing and simply leave readers wandering around a poorly developed romance set in an inexplicably half-apocalyptic wasteland.
The world-building in Eve is unsophisticated. Readers know that the country was ravaged by some sort of Plague several years ago…and that is about it. To start, the disease itself is never named, though it seems to bear some similarities to tuberculosis. The country’s response to this Plague is even odder. Children were rounded up and put into Schools like Eve’s. They, now, are all orphans, but the children were collected before all their parents were dead so, theoretically, some should still have parents somewhere. Practically everyone else is forced to live in a single city—a strange move for a nation that was just destroyed by a Plague, since people would probably want to live apart to avoid the spread of diseases. The abandoned cities are all strewn with bones (no one collected them?) and houses are either full of supplies or already plundered, based on the needs of the plot. Logic does not always reign in this book.
However, one almost wants to ask why Eve is a post-apocalyptic book at all, poor world-building or not. The book does not ask a lot of questions about how the world got this way and how it can be avoided. It does not ask a lot of questions about how humans survive and how they rebuild. Mostly it’s a romance that just happens to take place in an “edgy” setting.
But it is not a particularly good romance either. Eve suffers from something that is very close to instalove, even if she is skeptical at first. (Her School is all-girls, so her experience with men is limited and biased.) She also vacillates pretty easily between accepting unquestioningly the teachings of her School and dismissing them entirely, based on the needs of the plot. I could get behind even a brainwashed character who thinks all men are pigs if she would simply stay brainwashed until personal experience and observation cured her! Instead, however, Eve likes to think that her man is special and all other men are pigs…for no apparent reason.
Finally, I personally find Eve selfish and believe the book excuses her behavior. Eve’s lack of experience in the real world is one factor, but it neither explains nor exonerates all the foolish actions she takes. Yet Eve seems to be one of those books that preaches that any action is okay, no matter how stupid or dangerous, if it is done in the name of romantic love. Will someone die because you have to have a romantic rendezvous with your boyfriend? That’s a little sad, but ultimately a sacrifice worth making, because you love him. Or so Eve implies. I simply cannot get on board with that philosophy.
The start of Eve is promising, but the book never delivers. It stumbles about a poorly-imagined post-apocalyptic setting mainly so it can wax on about the meaning of love and deliver a standard instalove romance. There is one potential twist to the series, but I think I already know what it is, and frankly, am not interested enough to keep reading along to verify. There are much stronger post-apocalyptic books on the market.