Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman


Goodreads: Dry
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: Oct. 2018


The drought in California has seemingly lasted forever, but no one expected the taps to run dry–except, perhaps, for Alyssa’s weird prepper neighbors.  But now Alyssa’s neighborhood is descending into chaos as one-time friends turn on each other for one life-saving sip of water.  With her parents missing, Alyssa, her brother, and some unlikely allies set out on their own to find one drop to drink.

Star Divider


Dry is a fast-paced thriller that raises ethical questions about the impact of humans on the environment even as it takes readers on a whirlwind journey across California and into the darkness of human hearts.  Though the book clearly feels itself relevant, the story never becomes overbearingly earnest.  Rather, it allows the action to make readers question themselves, both about whether they could survive a tap-out and about how they might be contributing to one.

As with Scythe, Dry switches among multiple perspectives in order to examine the effects of a major drought on the lives of vastly different individuals.  Alyssa is an “average” teen, just living her life with her parents and younger brother until the taps run dry.  Keldon, her next door neighbor, is the son of preppers, widely educated in survivalist skills and in the use of weapons.  They are joined throughout the book by characters ranging from the self-sacrificial to the fearful and selfish to the depraved and ugly.  The Tap-Out, like any life-or-death situation, apparently reveals the true selves of individuals, raising some to heroes and revealing others to be little more than rabid animals.

Intertwined with questions of how individuals react to hardship is the message that things are getting dire: climate change is real and it could have devastating effects.  The story never says so explicitly, but the fact  is that the water has run out and there are constant reminders that everything done to prevent such a catastrophe was too little too late.  Readers cannot help but wonder how close the real world is to a similar situation, and how their own wastefulness, ignorance, or apathy may be contributing to one.  Chillingly, however, the book ends on a positive note, with no real solutions presented and no guarantee that the Tap-Out will not happen again, either in fiction or in fact.

Dry will appeal to fans of Neal Shusterman, as well as to readers who love thrillers, survival stories, and post-apocalyptic literature.  With its fast-pace and provocative premise, it is a must-read YA.

4 stars

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve


Goodreads: Mortal Engines
Series: Predator Cities Quartet #1
Source: Library
Published: 2001


Historian Apprentice Tom has always admired the legendary Valentine, historian and explorer.  However, when a girl named Hester Shaw arrives in his hometown of London claiming Valentine to be a villain, Tom’s world is upended.  Suddenly, he and Hester are chasing London across the continent–one to return home and one to claim vengeance.

Star Divider


“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”

Mortal Engines is a fast-paced, episodic novel focused on the action to the detriment of nearly everything else.  Characters come and go quickly and situations are solved before they can ever become real problems for the protagonists.  Onward, onward the story rushes, keen to introduce new scenes and new scenarios to keep readers engaged.  Ultimately, however, it is difficult to engage with a story where the characterization is minimal and the relationships rushed.

The first thing readers will likely notice about the book is that Mortal Engines feels very much like a YA novel from the early 2000s.  It is clean enough that, like The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time, it could easily be marketed as upper-middle grade and as well YA.  It lacks a love triangle.  It focuses on its story and does not suddenly become a romance when one thought one was reading a post-apocalyptic adventure.  Whether or not readers will enjoy reading a YA that feels, well, like it almost shouldn’t be called YA since it’s missing all the recognizable tropes, will, of course, be up to personal preference.  But at least  Mortal Engines feels very different from most of what is currently on the YA market.

Regrettably, however, the  book seems invested only in the action and not in building a well-developed story or well-developed characters.  Scenes are very short, meaning that the protagonists can jump from one dangerous situation to another in order to keep the plot flowing.  However, this also means every dangerous situation is resolved incredibly quickly.  As a result, it is hard to feel worried for the characters because it is so evident they will be fine within a few pages.  Allies and foes come and go with the scenes, making it likewise difficult to feel invested in them.  Do we care who lives and who dies when we barely know them?

The minimal characterization also hurts the relationships, making them far from realistic.  Relationships do not really develop in the book, having no time to do so.  They are simply announced.  Suddenly, two characters who talked to each other for awhile, are in love.  There is no build up.  There is no chemistry.  We simply receive romances because, apparently, why not?  I actually have trouble believing these romances exist because so little textual evidence suggests they should.

Even with a Peter Jackson film coming out, I have difficulty seeing  Mortal Engines regaining new life as a beloved sci-fi adventure.  There is a sort-of interesting premise buried at its core (mobile cities that chase each other for scrap metal–mainly because their inhabitants are too proud/stupid to stop moving and make a life off the land).  However, the premise is simply a vague background to a series of episodes for Tom and Hester to fly across.  Readers accustomed to fully-fleshed out world, lengthy plots, and simmering romances may find Mortal Engines not quite to their taste.

3 Stars

The List by Patricia Forde


Goodreads: The List
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: Aug. 2017


Years ago climate change caused the waters to rise and the earth to flood.  Only the believers escaped into the city of Ark, along with a few others who now live destitute outside the walls.  In Ark, Letta works as the apprentice wordsmith, collecting and keeping all the words until the people are ready for them.  For now, they are permitted to speak only 500 words.  Speaking others results in banishment.  But then one day Letta’s master dies and she is suddenly promoted.  Questions about his death lead to only more questions.  Is Ark really the utopia its founder says?


The marketing and reviews for this book suggested that The List is a thoughtful look at the power of words and the perils of censorship.  However, even though the citizens of Ark are only legally allowed to speak 500 words–the language of List–the book does not really focus on the implications of this system.  Rather, it turns into a pretty standard dystopian novel in which the protagonist attempts to thwart the experiments of a tyrant.

Notably, Letta does not really develop any deep understanding of the implications of List.  Her actions are primarily driven by the discovery that her friends ,and later the people of Ark, are facing violence at the hands of Ark’s leader.  Interestingly, Letta, like all the people of Ark, is aware of much of the violence and corruption.  She just doesn’t care until people she knows are left to be devoured by wild animals.  Or until, apparently, the violence becomes more violent than she thinks acceptable. It’s impossible not to wonder if Letta does not care about List because List does not affect her much, either.  As an apprentice wordsmith, she can speak the old language with her master.  She can also speak it with the leaders of Ark.  Letta, as a bit of snob, does not associate much with the “common” people.  Thus, her world is not really the world of List.

List, then, does not play as pivotal a role in the story as the summary might suggest.  Letta typically does not speak List and neither do the people she associates with.  It might have been interesting if the book itself had been written in List, really illustrating the implications of attempting to communicate meaning with only 500 words (and no tone or body language!).  However, it seems like the author was so well aware of the limitations of List, that she did not want to use it much either in the narrative or through her characters.  This means that Letta never really has to engage with List, never has to wonder what emotions or ideas people are lacking because they do not have the words.  Letta has the words.  And she’s not overly concerned with the people who do not.

The List ultimately disappointed me.  I was promised a book about censorship, but received a book about a girl joining (sort of) a secret organization that promotes paintings and music, and sometimes rises up if they perceive an immediate threat to their survival.  Any conclusions about the perils of List, however, must be drawn by readers thinking about the implications beyond those depicted in the story.

3 Stars

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The RoadInformation

Goodreads: The Road
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: September 26, 2006


Years ago, the world burnt. Now all is ash. In the desolation, a father and his son walk towards the south and the coast, in search of hope.


The Road was published in 2006, two years before The Hunger Games started a boom in the publication of dystopian/postapocalyptic fiction, yet even taking into consideration that McCarthy wrote the book before the fad, The Road doesn’t offer much original to the genre. (In fact, the feel of the book has a lot in common with Jack London’s “The Scarlet Plague,” which was published in 1912.) It’s a dystopian focused heavily on world-building, on the day-to-day experiences of a boy and his father as they wander about the roads, looking at a burnt out world. There isn’t much in the way of an overarching plot. We’re talking about atmosphere here–and too many dystopians have been written, both before and after The Hunger Games, for atmosphere to be particularly interesting.

So for much of the book I was thinking, “I get it. They’re walking around, looking for abandoned canned food no one else has looted, pushing their lives in a shopping cart and trying to avoid other people on the road because you never know who’s going to shoot you.” And I have read so many books like this. Once in a while, the boy and the father ponder their fate or the fate of humanity. The real problem is: I have read books that have a very similar world-building (Angelfall by Susan Ee comes to mind), but which also have a plot. So The Road didn’t impress me.

I know the book has some status as school required reading, so it’s hard to dismiss it entirely. There are some things about it that are philosophically interesting, if one is willing to dig about for them. The relationship between the boy and his father is particularly worth a second look for anyone reading this academically. And it asks some questions that are basically dystopian/postapocalyptic staples: What does it mean to be human? What is it ethical to do in the pursuit of survival? Is there really a clear line between the “good guys” and the “bad guys?” But, since these are questions practically inherent to the genre, I’m not sure I can say there’s anything specially compelling about the way they’re raised in The Road, if it’s worth reading this book over other books from the genre.

The Road is solid, but I’ve seen so much that’s similar that I simply can’t be excited about it. It just seems so standard, except with a particularly literary fiction type of style (mixing up the chronology, not clearly indicating who’s speaking, etc.), and the style simply doesn’t compensate for the lack of original thought or content.

3 stars Briana

Rook by Sharon Cameron


Goodreads: Rook
Series: None
Source: Borrowed
Published: April 2015


Sophia Bellamy lives in a world without technology where the Sunken City once was called Paris and the Commonwealth was England.  But even though technology is outlawed to prevent the devastation it once caused long ago, history repeats itself.  The people of the Sunken City die each day by the Blade–unless they are fortunate enough to be rescued by the Red Rook, a mysterious savior who empties the prisons and leaves only a red-tipped feather behind.


I have long enjoyed Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel series and all the melodrama it contains, so I eagerly awaited the release of Rook.  This re-imagining promised something different as the summary suggested that the hero in this case would be a female.  The summary did not indicate that the story occurs in a post-apocalyptic world, but that details proves insignificant to the plot–it could just as well have been set during the French Revolution or on another planet.  But a female Pimpernel?  That’s still difference enough.

Unfortunately, this book falls into the kinds of traps that seem specifically to await the unwary YA.  The vague setting, the girl who is “different” from the rest and thus far superior to those poor females who don’t like to run around wielding swords, the love triangle (complete with, I can’t believe I am writing this, a duel over the girl); and the unwieldy page length.  Let’s break this down.

The setting seems a confused choice to justify its inspiration in The Scarlet Pimpernel without making the book seem too repetitive, but I think the plot would have been better served had the book just called itself a retelling or a re-imagining and used the gender swapping as its justification for existence.  The setting also creates an excuse for the characters to indulge in period dress and behaviors, from engagement balls to arranged marriages to duels.  I guess we’re supposed to find it all romantic (I didn’t.  You’re telling me the future is a regression back to thinking women have no physical capabilities and are mere decoration for the home?  How…cynical.)  However, the presence of conveniently-placed technology also allows the plot to proceed when necessary.  It’s all very muddled and not explained very well, but the characters seem not to be worried about why they’re living in a post-apocalyptic world, so the impression I got was that the readers weren’t supposed to think too hard about it, either.

Sophia Bellamy as the Scarlet Pimpernel (I mean…the Red Rook) was a fun change, but I do wish the other characters had not mooned over her so much.  There is a lot of dialogue about how she is different from other girls and she is willing to get dirty and she can wield a sword and she can do this and that.  Sophia is pretty radical for her society, but I think the book could have presented her as admirable (risking her life to save others is, after all, a very noble thing to do) without implying that any women who like to sit inside and cook or something are just not as good.  (I would have also enjoyed more female characters in general–Madame Hasard at the end and the presence of a few nearly silent servants simply does not provide a great representation.  There’s the neighbor woman, sure, and Jenny Bonnard, but they are clearly secondary characters.)

The love triangle follows the trajectory of nearly all love triangles in YA: Sophia is clearly in love with Rene and clearly not in love with Spear, but Rene and Spear spend the entire book fighting over Sophia as if her will isn’t really involved. (I think some lip service is paid to her choice, but both men really thought her decision was binding or important they presumably would just accept it.)  Then, of course, Spear has to end up being a kind of terrible guy because only terrible guys find their love unreciprocated.  It can’t be that sometimes a woman just isn’t romantically interested in a man even if he’s noble and upright and everything.  (Sophia, again, tries to head off this argument by saying something about just not liking Spear in that way–but the plot undermines the strength of this moment by having Spear then go crazy just so we know for certain that he’s not a viable love interest.  Unless perhaps this is actually a comment on current events and the ways we have seen men respond to rejection with violence?  It’s possible the story is more clever than I give it credit for.)

Aside from these problematic moments, I did enjoy the story.  I love a good old-fashioned rescued-from-the-scaffold tale, overly dramatic though it may be.  However, the story was dragged out far too long; had the page count been cut in half the pacing would have been excellent, with all the action and romance packed in and the repetitive bits (mostly about loving and then not loving and then loving and then not loving Rene…) cut out.  I like Harry Potter a lot, but it does feel like ever since its release, editing for pacing  has generally been disregarded.

Thankfully this YA did not fall into the trap of becoming a series, because I would never read the sequel.  This adventure already took far too much of my time without giving me much in return.  A female Pimpernel gave me great joy–but the rest of the story chiseled away at that advance for feminism.

Krysta 64

End of Days by Susan Ee

End of DaysInformation

Goodreads: End of Days
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #3
Source: Library
Published: May 12, 2015

Official Summary

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run.  They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and on Penryn’s sister.  As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war.  As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious?  Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?


End of Days is a stunning conclusion to Ee’s trilogy.  The past two books take readers across California and into various lairs of the angels—their parties, their labs, their dungeons.  End of Days takes readers farther than ever before, to new exciting settings and the heart of all that is happening in this action-packed adventure.

There are some sparks of romance and sexual tension in this installment, just enough to keep readers interested and on the edges of their seats wondering what Penryn and Raffe will have to give up in order to stay together.  I have seen other readers complain the romance is not enough, but I think the focus is perfect.  For once, someone has written a post-apocalyptic book where the heroine is actually more concerned about saving the world than about whether she is going to kiss a cute guy.  Penryn knows what is important: saving her family, saving lives, and saving Raffe’s wings whether the two of them have a future together or not.

Penryn has been going steadily questioning what her role in the post-apocalyptic world is going to be, and in End of Days she finally comes into her own.  She may not want to be a hero, she may feel like she is a hero—but she can be a hero.  Watching her grow and accept the weight of responsibility because so few other people will is quite beautiful.  The other characters continue to grow, as well.  Readers get new perspectives on Paige, Penryn’s mother, and even some of the baddies.  Some of the heroes are quite unexpected.

The book’s one flaw—and it is a fairly large one—is that some of the most important questions of the series remain unanswered.  I will avoid specifics, so as not to spoil too much of the book—but a lot of about the angels and their purposes is still unknown.  Worse, the characters drop the topic whenever they feel a modicum of safety.  Their world was destroyed, no one knows why, and apparently it does not matter if you think the world will not continue to be destroyed.  The danger has passed, so it does not matter what caused it?  Personally, I ended the book with a large feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction.  The journey was glorious, but the destination is barely worth it.

Apocalypse Meow Meow by James Proimos III and James Proimos, Jr. (ARC Review)

meow meowInformation

Goodreads: Apocalypse Meow Meow
Series: Companion to Apocalypse Bow Wow
Source: ARC (ALAAC15)
Publication Date: November 3, 2015

Official Summary

Brownie, Apollo, and their ragtag group of strays have raided the grocery store and defeated some very mean mutts–but now they’ve run out of food. So when the crew discovers a nearby Twonkies factory, and all the Twonkies they could ever eat, they think they’ve got it made.

The only catch is the cat guarding the factory–and this “cat” is MUCH bigger, and far more sophisticated, than any feline they’ve ever met. Can the dogs and their friends defeat their foe and claim the Twonkies for themselves?

The Proimos father-son team returns with another irreverent, dog-filled take on the apocalypse, told in a graphic novel paper-over-board format. The instantly accessible artwork and laughs on each page will charm everyone from the most reluctant reader to the coolest of cats (humans and animals alike)!


Apocalypse Meow Meow  is a ridiculous, fun-filled adventure–that takes place after the apocalypse.  All humans have disappeared from Earth and only the pets are left, which means they’re just waiting to get into wild adventures. And although they do have apocalyptic problems–such as missing their people and running out of food–the authors make sure things stay silly.  As the pets go on a quest to eat all the Twonkies they could possibly want from the abandoned Twonkie factory, it is easy to imagine the owners are just at work or about to come back.  Not to mention there are a few hints that someone might be trying to undo the apocalypse.

I have to admit that this book is not really my style.  Though I did find it amusing at times, it does not really align with my sense of humor.  I am also not a huge fan of the loose, cartoony art style.  However, the story is entertaining and the characters are pretty endearing.  I have not read the prequel to the book, but had no trouble following the plot, understanding the characters, or otherwise comprehending what was going on in this world.  The authors make enough allusions to past actions that it is possible to fill in the gaps of why some characters are distrustful of each other or make certain alliances with one another.

Overall, then, Apocalypse Meow Meow is pretty entertaining.  I can easily imagine this appealing to middle schoolers, particularly boys.  There are only a few words on each page (and oftentimes they’re words like “meow” or “grr”), so it’s a pretty quick read, which may also make it a good choice for reluctant readers.

World After by Susan Ee

World AfterInformation

Goodreads: World After
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #2
Source: Netgalley
Published: November 19, 2013

Official Summary

When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?


World After is a fantastic contribution to the Penryn and the End of Days series. Susan Ee shows off her writing chops by crafting a story that is exciting, moving, and dangerous even while the love interest readers have come to adore in the first book is absent for most of the plot. Although protagonist Penryn would love to have the protection of Rafe and his comforting presence, she shows she is more than capable of handling herself—and caring for her family—in a broken world.

The stakes for Penryn and her world are actually higher than ever in this installment. The resisters to the angel occupation thought they had pulled off a brilliant and devastating attack in Angelfall, but it turns out that they had destroyed very little and understood very little of the angels’ real plans. Penryn, Rafe, and the rebellion are suddenly faced with enemies more dangerous than before and prospects bleaker than ever. Ee keeps the story from becoming too dire, however, by using the dangerous to explore what it means to be a hero and if Penryn has to make the choice to act like one.

Penryn certainly grows along with her ever-growing responsibilities. She must tackle whether it is enough to save her sister, whether she should save everyone else as well, or if she even can. The other characters also get a lot of development in this book, however, including Rafe and Penryn’s mother and sister. Paige suffered terribly from the experiments performed on her in Angelfall, and coming back into human society may not be enough for her to recuperate. Penryn’s mother must come to terms with how much she, broken herself, can be held responsible for protecting her own daughters. And Rafe is still torn between obligations to angel commands and his own sense of ethics.

This means the romance between Penryn and Rafe is still up in the air, and I love it. Their relationship is not just frowned upon; it is absolutely forbidden, and consummating it in any way will have dire consequences. I love not going how this all will play out, and being torn between whether I should be rooting for them to get together, or hoping that Rafe should stay true to the commands from his God.

World After, all at once, is thrilling, romantic, and thoughtful. I can’t way to finish the journey with Penryn and Rafe in book three.


Angelfall by Susan Ee


Goodreads: Angelfall
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #1
Source: Netgalley
Published: May 21, 2011

Official Summary

It’s been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back…


Angelfall captivatingly blends angelic myth and apocalyptic scenarios to result in a book that is nearly impossible to put down. A strong heroine, noble hero, and unrelentingly urgent plot guide readers through a world ridden with chaos and a few bright spots of hope. Most other angel books cannot compare.

Admittedly, Angelfall begins a bit slowly. The prose is clunky, repetitive and sometimes too self-aware. The post-apocalyptic elements, the decrepit town where gangs rule the street and no one can go out at night, seem unremarkable and familiar. Then the angels come, and everything changes. Penryn doesn’t just have to face street gangs with guns; she has to befriend one of the enemy and go on an epic quest to save her little sister. Whether the prose also improves at this point or its awkwardness is just less noticeable as the plot of the novels picks up, I can’t say for certain, but suddenly the story seems fresh. Even as other tropes of the genre pop up—the rebel alliance, the streams of people seeking haven in large cities—Ee manages to put a supernatural spin on them and make them new again.

Penryn is a particularly well-drawn character for this genre. She isn’t just harsh and she isn’t just disillusioned. The end of the world scenario has certainly toughened her, but she has always been tough and bears the trait well. And beneath that, she has a genuinely good heart, which seems like just the right thing if you’re going to have to deal with angels. Raffe is a great companion for her. The two work well together, a true team, and there’s just enough romantic tension in the novel to make readers swoony and leave them hoping for more in the sequels.

The cast of side characters is equally nuanced, including the kidnapped younger sister, Penryn’s mentally unstable mother, and a whole rebel army. I admit, however, I can do without the twins-who-are-perfectly-interchangeable trope. Seriously, they call themselves Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, which is absurd enough, but eventually they just get called Dee-Dum because, you see, when you’re dealing with twins it doesn’t actually matter which one you’re talking to; they’re just the same person anyway. This is pretty insulting to twins and I do wish it would stop being portrayed in media as cute or the norm.

Parts of the backstory could also use more explanation, but the plot is so engrossing this is practically unnoticeable until the story is over. Then the questions—Wait, how exactly did angels take over the world? And when?—start coming to light. I’m hoping more of this will be answered in the sequels because, as in-depth as Ee describes the present-day world, it all seems a bit hazy when you can’t tell yourself a complete narrative about how it came to be that way.

In the end, however, Angelfall stands out as an imaginative and captivating take on both post-apocalyptic stories and on the angel/supernatural romance. I’ve seen a lot of hype for this book, and it really deserves it.

Eve by Anna Carey


Goodreads: Eve
Series: Eve #1
Source: Won at a YA event
Published: October 4, 2011

Official Summary

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.