Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Plus One

Plus One
By Elizabeth Fama
Expected publication April 8, 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Sol lives in the night. She has no choice: the world is divided into Night and Day and, by law, Sol can only be out of her house during the night. But her beloved grandfather is dying and Sol will do anything to give him one last perfect moment. Including stealing her infant niece from the hospital. What Sol doesn't know is that there is a Day boy determined to get in her way.

I was completely enamored with Fama's Monstrous Beauty, so when I heard about her newest book, I immediately put it on my radar. I was thrilled to score an ARC at ALA Midwinter and finally crammed it into my busy reading schedule.

Much like her earlier book, this new novel is exquisitely well-written. Fama seems to have quite the knack for perfectly capturing some of the most complicated emotions I've encountered in fiction. Parts of this book made me laugh and parts of it broke my heart in ways and places I couldn't have imagined.

Part of this is due to Sol. Oh, Sol. She is just full of it and I adore her for that. You know, just the other day I was participating in a Twitter chat about likable characters and my thoughts about Sol bring me back to that chat. I'd describe her as full of piss and vinegar and I think she works beautifully that way. My heart ached for her because, after all, what she wanted was really something quite simple - to create a final perfect memory for the grandfather who has raised her. Admittedly, she doesn't take the best route there, but her heart is clearly in the right place.

I thought the premise of this book was really fascinating - the lives of citizens equally divided between those who live in the daylight and those who live under cover of the night. A government-mandated divide. Really intriguing. Unfortunately, I wanted more. While Fama does cover the origins of this divide and briefly recaps the history, I wanted more. There is so much you can do with a premise like this and I would have liked Fama to explore it a bit more. I can understand why she wouldn't - surely not all of the exploration would be relevant to the main story here and could have dragged the book down - but maybe it just means I want to read more of Fama's lovely writing.

Additionally, I felt like the ending was a bit rushed. The book builds in action and develops its characters nicely, heading toward the conclusion. But I felt the last 50 pages or so were rushed in comparison to the slow build of the rest of the book. It felt a bit jarring.

A note on the cover: I like the idea of it a lot but I think it gives a somewhat false impression of the book. It would suggest a much more heavily romance focused book than what Fama has actually written. Yes, there is romance in here, but it's not the main focus, which I think this cover might lead you to believe.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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