I have a lot of respect for John Green and the books he writes. He doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, and his characters are real. I feel like so much YA lit today is so unrealistic and watered down. I get that a lot of it is escapist, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t also be honest, so I appreciate books where the characters deal with difficult stuff and frequently fail at it.
And this one hit home. Hard. The main character, Aza, has anxiety. She gets into thought spirals that she has trouble escaping. She is constantly worried about germs, C diff, infections, etc. And, my gosh, can I relate to this. This book was really difficult for me to read because it was so accurate. And while Aza seems to struggle more than I do, her thoughts are my thoughts a lot of the time. I related to her in such a basic way. I have had anxiety most of my adult life. I was okay as a teenager, but it has definitely ramped up in the past decade.
The story just follows Aza and her circle of friends trying to solve a mystery. The plot isn’t all that complicated, or even all that interesting, but being inside her head is the best (and worst) part of this book. As hard as this book was to read, I still enjoyed it because how easy it was to relate to Aza and her best friend, Daisy. Daisy doesn’t have anxiety and she struggles with how to help Aza. She is also frustrated with how Aza gets wrapped up in her own thoughts. But the thing about anxiety is that the person truly can’t help it. Anxiety isn’t being self centered or narcissistic. The anxious person doesn’t WANT to have these thoughts, doesn’t enjoy having these thoughts. So the struggle is keeping them at bay while preserving some kind of life outside of them. It is hard and John Green captured this struggle well.
I read Marie Lu’s Legend series when it first came out, and it’s one I recommend to people looking for YA dystopia. I consider it to be one of the better series out there. I was hoping for the same feeling when I heard she had another series out, The Young Elites, but, I can’t say I felt the same grip to read more like I did with Legend.
The premise itself is interesting. A fever strikes a country killing some, leaving others unharmed, but a select few become “marked” with different color hair, skin, and with mysterious powers. One can command the wind, another fire. Their energy seems to come from the elements. However, Adelina only discovers her powers in a time of great distress. Taken from her family, she is guided by the others like her, The Young Elites, through a series of events. The Elites are outcasts and are trying to make their place in the world, so to speak.
I am going to be vague to avoid spoilers, but one of my least favorite plotlines happens in this book. Someone has a secret, but is too scared to share it, so bad things happen because he/she kept quiet. It happens so much in YA books, and it drives me nuts. It is just so unoriginal and overdone. I was disappointed this book’s main plot involved this very concept. However, the ending was good and the epilogue was even better.
Because of these two things, I will keep reading the series. I like Adelina as a character, but the main bad guys are pretty thin and cliched. But, because the Legend series is so great, I have hope that this series picks up in the next two books.
I might have hit the wall with YA dystopian. Not necessarily because of this book in particular, but I just don’t really enjoy it anymore. Stuff is too watered down and predictable. The two of the three series (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games) that revolutionized YA and opened new doors for writers are worth reading. I hated Twilight, but I admit that it did shake things up in the paranormal romance dept. And each series just has so many spin offs (some worth reading, most worth skipping) and I feel like I’m done with this particular one. Maybe because I’m not a young adult.
The Moon Dwellers isn’t anything new. Set in the future, a young girl doesn’t know what has come of her family, but she has an electric connection with a young man who is the president’s son, but the son doesn’t want to be like his dad, so he runs away to find this mystery girl, so on and so forth.
A few YA dystopian books come to mind that *are* worth reading: The Legend series, The Chaos Walking series, and the Red Rising series. Other than that, the rest are just mediocre spin offs that are good for quick mindless reads. There is a place for these kinds of books. Sometimes I just want something simple to escape into. And, again, I’m not a young adult, so maybe the appeal of this kind of book is different for the target audience.
I have the rest of this series on my Kindle, as well a few other YA books, but for the most part, I think I’m on a YA break for awhile.