This book was a struggle for me. I love dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic or otherwise, but this one was almost painful to read. Not because of the sad state of our world in the future. But because as I kept reading, I found myself wondering if the main character Eve was actually getting dumber by the page.
The story starts the evening before Eve’s graduation. Eve is an orphan who has been brought up in a school for girls. A safe haven from the dangerous outside world. Eve is very much looking forward to starting at the university upon graduation, to learn her trade. Once finished with her university education she will be able to move to the City. The last city in civilization, ruled over by the great and magnanimous King, who is the only male in the world who is not an evil monster.
But Eve’s celebratory evening is interrupted when she discovers Arden, one of her fellow classmates, who is in the process of running away. Before Arden leaves, she tells Eve the terrible truth of what awaits them at university. Eve decides to investigate, after which she too decides to escape.
Eve, whose knowledge is strictly academic, now needs to find a way to survive in a world she knows nothing about.
Unfortunately learning more about the outside world and surviving in the wild does not wise Eve up all that much. Eve makes several discoveries about the world as it is. And there is also a lot she learns about what the past was truly like. None of it really changes the way she thinks, if she thinks at all. I just could not follow her thought process and consequent actions at all.
Which makes it even more incredulous when Eve manages to escape several dangerous and impossible situations unscathed, even if the smarter, more capable people she comes across don’t always manage that.
The world the story takes place in is, however, interesting, and relatively well done. I was eager to learn to more about how it all happened. We get various clues about the disastrous event that started it all, but there’s still much left to the imagination. We aren’t given yet the whole picture. This makes it hard to decide whether a few of the illogical aspects of this kingdom are really that, or if we need to read the following novels for us to truly grasp the situation.
Eve is said to be a cross between The Hunger Games and The Handmaid’s Tale, but the comparison works only on the most basic level. Eve lacks Katniss’ fire. And her love story with Caleb, a boy she meets during her journey, lacks any sort of spark. It was all too bland for me.
Making allowances for Eve’s upbringing and subsequent brainwashing, I still could not get past the main character. And while I won’t impose straight up fantasy rules upon a young adult novel, I would like to think any teenager would balk at some of the convenient rescues. There is good young adult and post-apocalyptic fiction out there. Eve, however, does not belong in this category.
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