Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
When I started the book, I was under the impression it'd be a high fantasy. It was recommended to me because of my love for the Graceling Realm series, and that was the tagline everyone kept throwing around: Graceling meets Game of Thrones. And while that's not entirely inaccurate, there was a disappointment to realizing that the novel's setting was actually America far into the future, after a nuclear war. How the hell did this world come to be, with noblemen and women with silver blood and superhuman powers come to be? I asked myself, crying. Thinking that the world building would be, frankly, as secondary as it is in most YA novels, the authors biting off more than they can chew with coming up with these scenarios and then not caring about explaining them.
I complained about it being in first person (again) present tense (AGAIN), only to realize, at the end, that the narration had been sort of a stroke of genius. Because we see the world, and its inhabitants, solely through Mare's point of view, we miss things that a wider narration would have given us, we miss things that would have given it all away.
As the world expanded, I began to feel that Aveyard did, in fact, have a plan, a vision. And a sense of humor in her genre referential savvy (the line about hinging the entire rebellion on a teenage love story made me laugh out loud.) The characters are, in fact, more complex than I expected them to be, and Cal, especially, owning actual prejudices (seeing Mare as being different from the other Reds because she's exceptional; not really pushing for change in the reds' favor) and making some horrendous mistakes (the ruptured gas line when he uses his power causing fatalities among completely innocent people) made me ache for him, especially when its thrown in his face,even though I disagree with them in many of these things, his opinions and attitudes (which, admittedly, are going to change in sequels.) And Maven, ahhhhh! Mare's line, "I choose no one," was perfect. Between the three of them, none of them are really worthy, and that Aveyard allows that to be shown actually makes their actions hold more weight, more meaning.
Is this the best book ever? No. It's sort of a guilty pleasure. But it's also one of the better characterized YAs I've read in quite some time. It's certainly the only one that had me Googling maps and trying to figure out that landmarks and markers Aveyard gave, to track the locations in the book. So I'll say this: it had hidden depth I was not expecting, and could not have predicted when I began it.