My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A tiring experience, not nearly immersive enough to outweigh its cruelness.
I’m really on a fence with this one. On one side, this book gets pretty dark and tries to appeal to more mature readers by talking about heavier moral issues and questions of life and death, and it isn’t bad per se.
On the other, it still features the very YA shallow writing and world-building, dismissal of supporting characters… including the one who was probably supposed to be the second main character, since he gets his own POV and all, but ended up a repeatedly dismissed in both writing and story as a shallow insta-romance love interest (I can’t say I counted, but the Nedra/Grey chapter ratio is something like 3-4/1, and a lot of Grey chapters are hardly longer than 1 page… I mean, why even do it if he can be so easily dismissed?).
The biggest issue I have with this book is with the way it ‘skims’ over everything, barely touching the surface. The time flies, days, weeks, months, lives, are only mentioned flying by, the flow of time doesn’t feel real, the reader has no chance to plant their feet in the world and look around, see how they feel about all of it. Nedra is strong, talented, clever, and mature girl… but she is also single-minded, closed-minded, arrogant, and dismissive in a very unpleasant way. I didn’t like reading in her 1st person POV because it was full of ‘I know what is best and everyone needs and appreciates me, and if they don’t understand how important what I do is they are clearly useless’, which was made worse by the shallow world-building that made it hard to feel the horrors of the plague real and see what was really going on in the world that it would make Nedra’s attitude at least more proportionate. I do not want to go in details to spoil the actual story content, but every time she would act almost likable and say something reasonable, it felt like a ‘fluke’ (or like the author/editor had to add it as an afterthought) and then she go back on it right away or acts like it was a mistake to feel anything human. Nedra is a tiring character to follow, but the Grey is written so shallowly he is even worse…
And that was the impression I got from this book – it’s not bad enough to actually hate it, but it’s so tiring to read and not nearly immersive enough to compensate for its cruelness.