"We need to learn again of the hunger for Tylenols that poisoned our minds; the thirst for Cokes that weakened our bodies; the greed for MasterCards that toppled our rulers. All this evil spawned from the worship of the false god Apple...”
Um, excuse me? For fans of Game of Thrones? The Hunger Games? Not fucking likely. This is more like the result of feeding a copy of The Hunger Games through an industrial-sized paper shredder and mixing up the remnants with the stinking, rotting entrails of a long-deceased direwolf.
...ok, maybe not those. But one of their bigger, more threatening, less cute relatives.
The setting can only be described generously as mediocre. The heroine is a piece of fluff, so insignicant and insipid that I can't even hate her. Her internal monologue is an endless litany of anemic observations and internal monologue full of mind-boggling monotony. "I'm a Maiden! A Maiden must do this! A Maiden must do that! Woe is me! I'm a Testor! I'm such a bad Maiden!" Lol bitch plz. There is nothing about Eva that makes her a credible character, much less one capable of fulfilling the Testing process. She is untrained. She radiates wussiness. There is nothing about Eva that indicates toughness, ability, capability, and I am simply aghast at how easily she fulfils her tasks in this book.
Eva is determined. It means nothing. I'm determined to be the next Prime Minister of England (because Tom Hiddleston). I am very determined. And guess what? It means jack shit. Determination is nothing if you don't have the strength and the skills to back it up, and Eva has NOTHING with which to back up her determination to complete the Testing in memory of her brother.
And while we're counting down the crap, naturally, there's a love triangle between a dark native boy of a low social class and a perfect, high-society golden Guardian boy that goes fucking nowhere. You'll find out in the sequel!
I'm a pessimist. Some of you may secretly suspect that I'm a evil evil wicked terrible hate-filled person with blackness in her heart who thinks the majority of the people on this earth are a complete waste of air. You would be correct. With that said, I grudgingly concede the fact that humans in general are pretty fucking smart, which makes the entire premise of this stupid book absurd beyond belief. I'm a Buddhist. We believe in reincarnation. If I were destined to be reincarnated into a society such as this, I'd ask the gods to just fucking terminate my soul already. I don't want to live in a society and inhabit a body that could be so fucking gullible.
Summary: It's 200-ish years in the future? The polar caps melted, and the world is doom, doom, doomed, washed out in a ginormous flood. Billions of people have died; our current society would call it a tragedy beyond belief, a disaster, a horror unimaginable.
This moronic excuse society calls it "The Great Healing." They call themselves the people of the Aerie. I call them the New Taliban (explanation later). All remnants of modernity (our current society) is banned; Apple (the brand) is feared, reviled beyond belief as the instigator and root of all that is sinful, depraved, evil.
Viable land is only available in the North, where our current society is settled. Every 10 years, a new leader, a Chief Archon is selected to be the leader of their people through a process called Testing, and through the writing of an exemplary Chronicle. Eva and Eamon are twins; she is a Maiden, he is a Guardian, who has been training to be a Testor his entire life only to die several months before the actual Testing starts. Eva decides to perform the test in his place, despite a lifetime spent being a proper young Maiden, despite having undergone little training, despite her role she has been preparing for her entire life, as a "pretty, slender, and demure Maiden."
The Testing process can only be described as half-assed. It's a two-parter, composed of riding a sled through to the next part as fast as possible, which doesn't really seem to matter at all in the run of things because the speed doesn't seem to make a whit of a difference as long as you get to the next fucking part of the Test, and an excavation of an icy chasm in order to find a Relic. The entire thing is more luck than skill; if you happen to find a good Relic, you're golden, if not, you're shit out of luck.
Let's make this clear: the leader of the society is chosen based on the value of the Relic he or she happens to dig up. Eva's valuable contribution to society, her immensely prized Relic, the one that gets her so much praise and laudation is...
I AM NOT FUCKING KIDDING
After a half-hearted testing process and the writing of a Chronicle that can only be charitably described as the type of fanfiction I wrote when I was 12, Eva succeeds far beyond her imagination. Along the way, there's some whisperings of doubts about society that's more of an afterthought than anything else. That's it. Until the sequel (no, thank you). There is no intrigue. There is little action. There is no danger. There is nothing in here remotely evocating anything similar to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones and I fucking hate books and premises that make these incredbily grandiose claims that invoke those famous books in vain.
The Setting: Fucking cheap. Bloody cheap. A well-done setting is woven into the fabrics of the story, it does not rely on a fucking TIMELINE at the beginning of the book to describe the history of the dystopian society. It does not rely on a fucking textbook recitation and monotonous incantation of text in order to tell the reader about the past.
I raise my eyes and lift my hands toward the heavens, as my father asks the Four Sacred Questions for the Feast of the Testing.
“Why is this night different from all other nights?” he intones.
“Because, on this night, we ask the Gods to bless our Testors as they prepare for their sacred trials.”
It is utterly devoid of creativity, and I hate, hate, hate the use of rote "lessons" within the books to teach us about a society's past.
There is so much wrong with this book, and much of it has to do with the terrible, cheap world building. I said cheap, and I mean it. I have said it so many times in so many failed dystopian novels. The very backbone of a good dystopian novel is a credible premise, a credible society; this book fails on every single point. From a credible background to a plausible post-apocalyptic society to the setup of that society, nothing makes any bloody sense. This book doesn't build a dystopian society from the ground up, it starts with the idea of what it wants the society to be, and twists facts and events of the past around to fit its needs.
The current society is 200-something years in the future, and according to the timeline, a new religion was established some 10 years after the devastating events of the Flood. The fuck? Seriously? 10 YEARS? It takes a hell of a lot more than that to erase the memories of people, to instill within them the fact that this and that is evil, it takes hundreds of years, it takes the collective belief of everyone, I refuse to believe that the survivors are brainwashed so much that a whole new lexicon of gods and new definitions of good and evil can be established within that short of a time.
The dystopian society within the book is just terribly built. I don't even know how many fucking people there are remaining in this society. There is no customs, there is no descriptions, there is no mention of what their structure is besides that of the top people. We know they have a greenhouse, but that's pretty much it. I don't know what the buildings look like, I don't know how people live their daily lives, I don't know any fucking thing about this society besides the fact that it's unfair and I'm supposed to hate it because Eamon's journal mentions something vague about its falseness.
It's the fucking frozen Arctic. Right now, with all our current technology, humans still don't settle there. You know why? IT'S ONE OF THE HARSHEST TERRAIN ON EARTH. People don't settle there for a reason, few do, like the Inuits. It's a hard fucking life. You have to work your fucking ass off, hunting and gathering. If a new society fucking settles there in the future, I want to see some viable proof that their society can exist. As far as I can tell, the people in this book pulled their survival skills right out of a polar bear's ass. You see, they have ruuuuuuuules. It's the fucking New Taliban. Girls are called Maidens. They have RULES imposed on them, they have to be modest, short dresses are a no-no, if they could wear it (which they can't, cause...well, the Arctic, bitches), ever try to wear a fucking miniskirt in cold weather? If I had balls, they'd be frozen off by now and I'd be female by process of frosty castration. But yeah, this society concerns itself with stupid shitty little details like that INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON SURVIVAL.
Come, Mr. Taliban, gather me some bullshit: Mirrors? Banned! Vanity is bad!!! Tylenol? How about Tyle-no! Apple is the literal root of evil because these fucking morons think that Apple is the cause for society's downfall, and any mention of The Ebiiiiiil God Apple gets you a clutching of pearls and some swooning.
Girls and women are treated like we're fucking pussies, man. Let's get one thing straight, when you need to survive, all thoughts of gender inequalities go out the fucking window. You would think in the harsh Arctic, women would be treated equally because you would need all women to work as hard as men to gather resources, food, supplies, right? It was that way in the American West, farmers and their wives worked side by side to survive.
BZZZZZZ. WRONG. This book says "fuck you" to that concept of gender equality. Instead, it has established a rigid, structured society where women are weak, wilted, fainting fucking flowery fairies. Here are some of those fucking gems for you, according to the Bible-like rule of books, the Lex:
"The Lex clearly states that a wife follows her husband’s commands."
"A Maiden should be more solemn: let no humor cross your lips unless invited by the Gallant, Gentleman, or Lord in your company."
"I think on the admonitions for Maidens: be ever pleasing to the eye and ear."
I don't bloody think so. This society wouldn't last a day in Canada, much less the Arctic.
Stop it with the whole ice cap melting thing already, YA dystopia: Cause it ain't happening. Five minutes of research will tell you this. All that will happen when the ice caps melt is that society will have to move further inland. It's not going to be like fucking Waterworld. Billions of people are not going to die from floods, let me ease your mind on that. No worries, because we'll die of starvation, war, and disease first.
Yeah. I know humans are terrible. I know we're destroying the planet, but we didn't get this way by being fucking idiots in the past several thousand years, so don't try to sell this book's sorry ass bullshit excuse of a society on me.
Humans are some puny-ass fucking creatures with neither extra horns nor legs or bulked up strength; pitch us against a hippo or a ginormous predator and chances are in favor of the thing with teeth and horns and a lot of fucking anger at the thing that has invaded its personal space. But goddamn it, we have a huge brain capable of a tremendous amount of intellect, capable of higher thinking and analytical skills (even if such capacities go completely unused in some people. I don't want to name names, but their names rhyme with Lardashian). It's worked out so well that in nary a few thousand years, we've gone from Yabba-Dabba-Dooing cavemen to being on the verge of destroying entire ecosystems and bringing forth another Ice Age before it's due to naturally happen. So don't sell me on the idiotic premise of this book.
I can't help but feel like this book would have been better if it were rebranded and resold as a satire. Maybe it is a satire. Maybe I'm wrong all along.