*I received an ecopy of this book via BookSirens. This has not influenced my review.*
This is one of those books that I just felt drawn to. The cover, the title, the premise. But it’s also one of those books for which the blurb is accurate and yet somehow not wholly accurate, so the story turned out to be different than I thought it would be. It was kind of a dystopian/horror combo, although I’m not someone who usually reads horror, so maybe others would disagree. It was essentially about a bunch of teens trapped in a creepy maze-like facility with monsters (both figurative and literal) on the loose, blood and death everywhere. It wasn’t super scary or anything, but it still seemed more horror than dystopian for a good portion of the book.
That’s not to say the book wasn’t good for what it was though! There was a lot of suspense and some creepiness. There was also an element of mystery as to what was really going on in this place.
It also did have a dystopian setting. Not everything was really explained, there are still things I only half understand, so that is one big issue I had. From what I do understand though, the book took place in an underwater bunker sort of place where people were forced to retreat some decades prior, and there was a corrupt and overly controlling government in place with different types of enforcers and conspiracies and whatnot. There was also the whole concept of the Riot Reels (videos the main characters filmed in secret to expose the darkness of the city).
As for the characters, they were pretty interesting. They were flawed and rough around the edges and had a lot of contention between them, but they still looked out for each other. Tommy especially was super passionate about exposing the truth and fighting back against the bad things the city was doing—even at the risk of his and his friends’ safety. He had a unique voice to match his personality that included a fair bit of slang. He was also adorably protective of Gibbsy, who wasn’t as stereotypically tough as the others, and I loved their friendship. Bonus: Tommy had some feelings for one of the characters, but there was no actual romance plotline.
The ending is not what I would necessarily call open-to-interpretation, but everything is not wrapped up with a neat little bow. According to the site where I got this book, it is a standalone, which means all your questions will not be answered, and I know that might bother some people. I don’t mind endings that don’t wrap things up too neatly though.
Also just wanted to mention that the book is listed as being 510 pages, but I don’t know if that’s correct because it was a fairly quick read.
Overall, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a unique take in the YA dystopian genre with a bit of horror and a lot of conspiracy thrown into the mix and characters who were rough but still ones I could root for.
Anyone who likes young adult dystopian and horror, creepy conspiracies, flawed characters, and friendship.