I’ve read this book twice (this genre isn’t so much my taste anymore, but I wanted to finish the series that I’d started years ago and needed to refresh my memory) and have decided to rewrite my review to try and reflect my feelings for both reads.
– The first half or so of the book felt slow and too long, but if you hang in there, the second half is when you get to the meat of the book, when things really get brutal (if you think the first half is brutal, just you wait) and interesting.
– The author really didn’t avoid the gruesome, gritty, disgusting, violent, terrible stuff.
– I found the sorta love triangle to be complicated, subtle, and unpredictable, in this first book at least. (Romance was not the focus though.)
– The story in general was somewhat unpredictable.
– It was hard to get a read on Maia/Everly’s character. She was “reconstructed” and given someone else’s (Everly’s) feelings and memories. But there were also some bits of Maia left? It was hard to understand. On my first read, I thought she was cold and heartless. On my second read, I realized the girl whose memories she got might have been, but Maia, or this amalgamation she became, was actually compassionate. As much as she could be, at least, in their situations.
– Riser was edgy and feral and murderous, but also super sweet and protective, at least when it came to Maia. Which is sorta tropey? That being said, he was still an interesting character. He grew up in “the Pit,” this hellish underground place with no light or water where people survived by eating rats, moldy food scraps, and each other. He was so curious and cunning, always paying attention to everything, but he was also so easily awed and distracted.
“It wasn’t always like this,” I say to Riser, who’s watching the feral dogs like he wants to spring from the rooftop and join them.
– On my first read, I felt like the ruthlessness and evilness within the society and many of the characters was too extreme for me to find it realistic. But apparently my opinion of humanity has lowered because I didn’t find the evil too extreme the second time.
– The world was a little confusing, and it has a lot of different groups and things to keep track of.
– Ok, this doesn’t ruin the book because you just can accept it, it is what it is. But if the people uploading can see the thoughts, hear the conversations, etc. of the Chosens, then how was it that Maia and Riser could talk about their secret plans to each other? There was mention that the uploaders wouldn’t see/hear anything that wasn’t meant for them because it would be encrypted, but ??? Not really sure how they could have that sort of thing programmed ahead of time, but ignoring that… Would the people uploaded not find it weird when half of Everly’s conversations and thoughts were garbled gibberish or a blank screen? I imagine the Emperor would have someone monitoring things, and would they not find it suspicious? The whole encryption thing seemed like the reader just wasn’t supposed to think about it, but it made too little sense for me to not think about it.
Overall, violent dystopian stories with a bit of romance are not exactly new, but there were some interesting ideas and characters here that kept me reading and made me intrigued enough to keep going with the series.
*I’ve read this book multiple times. This review was written after my 2nd read.*
Anyone who likes YA dystopian, violence with all the gruesome details, characters who can be feral or cold but also sweet and compassionate, and a bit of romance.