An emotion-less heroine is hard to connect with – but the story has potential.
Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Dystopia
No. of pages: 365
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).
Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
It took me a considerable amount of time to really get into this book. I kept putting it down, interested, but not compelled to keep reading. The concept certainly had me hooked, but an emotionless protagonist was hard to connect with. It was also hard to become invested in the reboot’s plight when I am still trying to figure out HARC. We got some insight, but it was mostly speculation. I like that is wasn’t fully explained, but I needed more to feel like I got a decent pay-off on completing the novel.
Our protagonist Wren was a hard character to like for the first three-quarters of the novel. An unfeeling, unemoting, assassinating machine does not warm your heart. It was her connection to the love interest Callum that finally had me beginning to like her and invest in their relationship. The interaction she had with her roommate, Ever, was limited as well. And later, when described as her best friend, I was still struggling to understand Wren completely. I think the narrative relies on the reader to attribute human emotions to the situations even though they are not represented in the written word.
Ever seemed a bit more present in the story. Where Wren was an observer for much of the novel, Ever was the subject. I got a quiet bravery and solidarity from her reflected in Wrens eyes.
Callum very much reminded me of a friendly puppy dog, always happy, wagging tail, smiling. The perfect balance to Wren’s stoic nature. He added layers of empathy that were absent and slowly engaged me in the story and shone a more flattering light on Wren. Though it seems he was only interested in her because she was cute. It wasn’t until much later in the novel we discovered other motives. And I wasn’t entirely convinced about how their relationship progressed. It didn’t fill me with love or angst… it was cute and okay, but didn’t sell me on the romance.
On the whole, the plot of this story is predictable. A few curve balls were thrown in with other arcs, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but they weren’t explored enough to give this novel the oomph it needed – I am expecting these to more developed in the second novel of the series ‘Rebel.’
Amy’s writing style is a little dry. She has moments of humour and manages to pace the novel well. But the beginning and middle sections of the book felt slow because of this flat narrative. Which could be in part because of Wren’s nature, and part because not much imaginative description and postulation regarding Wren’s surroundings and the world at large.
I’d recommend this to anyone who loves dystopian YA. It’s not the best I’ve read, but certainly entertaining.
For me, there felt like there were so many plot holes and unexplained phenomena to really get into, but we’ll see what happens in the sequel…
Overall feeling: just like another teen movie
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