Goodreads: Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.
I have to say, overall I really enjoyed this novel. I may sound reserved in this review, but that's because the past gazillion books I've fangirled over, and this book is more of a quiet, steady love. I had already read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, which completely took me by surprise in all (good) ways. So I at least knew a little bit of what to expect from her this time, and I was still taken by surprise.
First and foremost, it is important to note that while this book is set in a dystopia, the dystopia isn't the point, and I know that is the biggest problem most people reading this book had. Don't read it for the dystopia aspect, read it for Lauren Oliver's amazing ability to make her characters feel so real. I officially love her writing. In both books I've read by her, the emotions her characters go through just feel...right. They don't feel contrived or overdone - they feel like people, basically. And I think that is at the core of what makes Lauren Oliver such an amazing writer. If you're in a novel for the characters, this is the author for you. If you are in it for the fast paced plot and world building (not that hers is bad, it's just not so amazing that it's worth note), this is probably not the novel for you.
This is another book where the best friend relationship is the most important one for me. Lena's relationship with Hana was by far the thing I cared about most. Hana is funny, smart, and loves Lena to bits, even if their relationship feels one sided at times. They both change and that relationship changes with them. Hana reminds me a little bit of Bridget from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, actually (and she always was probably my favourite of that group), so she's really a lot of fun. Basically, this book passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours. Alex, the love interest, was fine. I didn't have any objections to him, but much like my reaction to Four...he just kinda was. For me he was mostly there for Lena's growth, although there were plenty of romantic lines. This didn't bother me - it isn't a criticism of the writing, I'm just not in this series for the romance and I think that was reflected in my caring about their relationship at all.
I can see this going down a very similar route as Westerfield's Uglies trilogy, and I can definitely see a lot of resemblances between the two (judging by the first book anyway) so we'll have to see how I feel about that. On a side note, I have to say that I love that both books are both set sort of hereish, but also sort of altered if that makes sense.
Spoilers and Theories
1. I think I am actually most upset by what I imagine will likely be the end of Hana...unless she makes it into the second or third novel somehow, no surgery? I hope so! This friendship was easily my favourite part of the book. Alex was acceptably swoony, but while integral to the story, he wasn't what the story was about for me. And Grace! What's going to happen to her?!
2. She's going to meet her mom in the Wild
3. Either rebellion is going to happen in the second book (likely) and she'll save Alex, or the next time they meet he'll have had surgery (but potentially it won't work on him like it didn't on her mom?)
4. A new love interest will be introduced
This book is full of very real characters. If you're interested in character development, romance, and a splash of dystopia, this book is for you. If you are interested in a fast paced plot with heavy world building, this book might not be for you.