By Sara Grant
Published 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
This is another title I picked up at ALA that I hadn't really heard of before but snagged because, hey, it's free. I was certainly pleasantly surprised.
Neva is living inside the Protectosphere where, at 16, she is an adult, expected to never question Homeland authorities, and do the job she is assigned. But Neva is a curious girl, despite being the daughter of one of the most important men in Homeland. As she begins to question everything she knows, she aspires to be like her grandmother - one of the Missing (though according to Homeland, she never existed). Soon, Neva is at the center of a dangerous quest for truth.
I was a little bit apprehensive about this book at the start - to be honest, I was kind of sick of reading sci-fi/fantasy. And, initially, this book didn't show too much promise. However, I would say by the end of the first 50 pages, I was hooked. I needed to know what happened next; I didn't want to stop reading. This book is by no means the best written book ever - Grant relies far too much on dialogue to tell her story. But it's this dialogue that keeps up the relentless pace of the story and makes you want to know what comes next. Can Neva find out the truth about Homeland? Is there life outside the Protectosphere? What really happens to all the Missing? These questions keep the reader interested in finding out what will happen next to Neva and her friends. For me, the least successful part of this book is the attempt at romance - yes, I said attempt. The relationships depicted here are not really romantic - they are pure lust, which certainly has its place. It doesn't even bother me that these relationships are almost entirely sexual in nature. The reason why these "romances" don't work for me is because they don't add anything to the novel. The only purpose they seem to serve is to further complicate matters and add unnecessary drama to the already complex plot.
Overall, this novel's selling point will be its depiction of a unique world and a mystery that readers just need to solve. A really surprising and enjoyable read.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.