Series: The Eve Trilogy
Author: Anna Carey
Format: Hardcover, 318 pages
Description: Where do you go when nowhere is safe?
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth's population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school's real purpose--and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she's ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life. In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in "Eve"'s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.
You know when the first chapter begins with "By the time the sun set over the fifty-foot perimeter wall...” you are most certainly in for a ride. Proceeded only by a griping, curious, chilling letter from Eve's mother while dying from disease, the words sets the perfect opening stage for novel’s voice.
The story itself is engrossing from the beginning, though for quite a while (perhaps the first hundred-or-so pages) the purpose of the novel was simply to set up the dynamic of the school - which is really where the vast majority of the allure came from. I've noticed the book is getting a lot of heat from reviewers for the dystopia's cause being so "typically" set up, but I officially waive and veto the complaint: it should be understood, to appreciate the novel, that it's not about the virus or the government set up or the apocalypse itself (though I *really* wish it could have all been more... just, more) but the concept of a naive girl being pruned from an early age to be fearful of men and serve a single purpose being suddenly awakened: an occurrence the sends Eve spiraling into a world far from expectations and even further from her safety-zone, on a marvelous adventure, forcing herself to overcome the stereotypes imbedded within (therefore swallowing the pride of thinking she'd been all-knowing as valedictorian), and to learn to love and trust a man - despite the unfair tide against him erected merely by the world they live in.
Also, the proposed distaste of the "need to repopulate" is actually not unrealistic, as we all automatically desire to jump to. Bear with me while I share a history lesson: after the Black Death, the Europeans all started getting married and having a lot of children quite fast, and for reasons historians and scientists haven't fully gouged, men and women of conception and birthing ages had biologically heightened levels of fertility like very few other times in the history of our race. With dystopian governments, we often find a very primal thing pushing the seemingly modern and complex structure - whether it be hate or dominance or power, or a combination of all three - and I see no reason for a government to push such a seemingly cruel and primal thing. Food for thought alone, perhaps, but I found that really fascinating when considering the dynamics and concepts for this piece.
I think some part of me has a natural "fondness" for gently naive people, especially given just cause to be that way. Though it seems a tad ridiculous for eighteen, the circumstances of being raised in a school designed to physically prepare hundreds of girls for birth (think mass octomom hysteria plus miscarriages plus "childbed fever", obviously a hell-risen nightmare, hence why Eve ran away to begin with), mentally give them a lifelong fear of men via dystopian-government-brainwash (in the process forcing the young women into the uber-prudish and stripping them of any sexual identity at all whatsoever), and tease the mind's capability for education in the old fashion idea that women are satisfied with thinking themselves cultured but incapable of actually being educated. In a way, I sensed the whole "Pride and Prejudice" thing going on (including the tight sister bonds) - subtracting the Regency era's constant pressure for a woman to get married.
All in all, I loved Eve for reasons far beyond Eve herself, and do recommend it for people looking for a fun new read. It was clever and often amusing with an appropriately dark humor, despite lacking emotions I wished the author had delved into more. It was very fast-paced - a lovely read, really. It reminded me a lot of Amanda Hocking's Hollowland - though unlike Remy, Eve harbors less strength from the beginning. For the first half, she lacked the strength for that title and that ferocity is something most YA readers (or at least, certainly me!) crave. I do, however, understand the context of the novel would prevent Eve from having the grit one expects a girl in her situation to have naturally.
Reading Eve, I mostly felt myself quirking an eyebrow at the oddity of the concept. For the first 150 pages, I felt disappointed. The premise is amazing, the plot is wonderful, and every single idea was interesting (though the reiteration of similar points was a bit much at times) – but for that first half, the execution was so poor, the “plague” situation was terribly underdeveloped, and the characters were difficult to relate to and carried rather annoying personalities. What was so amazing about Eve was that I wasn’t sure I could finish it through that half, and then somewhere in the middle, in a flash I completely lost my grip on distaste and fell into the novel. It was this unexpected plummet where I suddenly was incapable of putting the book down. I found myself adoring Eve and wishing things were different, actually liking Arden, and completely swooning over Caleb. Why is this so amazing, you ask? Because as I felt these things suddenly give way, they were also happening to Eve. Her views of the world were being chipped at from the beginning, but when the School’s “Hitler Youth” type mold suddenly shattered, the book just changed – and it was strangely awesome. And while in every other book I’ve seen the “writer’s epiphany turnover” happen it didn’t work at all, the author managed a literary pull-the-table-cloth-beneath-the-vase maneuver, and it was lovely and successful. Everything a good read needs fell in: the tug-at-your-heart-strings love interest, the desperate need for the heroine to succeed, the heart pounding plot with the boom-boom-‘BOOM!’ pace, and the someone-ripped-my-soul out feeling at the end
Something curious occurred the moment Eve finds that Caleb’s not like what she believed men to be (horny brute murders looking to steal your gentle, womanly soul with their cunning ways in the name of evil, basically) but what she didn’t know existed – “a good man”. Arden’s forced to see her selfishness and Eve realizes she’s not perfect, and continues to make understandable flaws – and sometimes, no one rushes to her rescue “just because everyone thinks she’s so flippin’ great” and I love that! She’s capable of making real decisions, of being practical, of adapting, in spite of everything. Though not returning to “point B” (you’ll know what I mean when you read that… censored for spoilers) and leaving the characters I grew to adore in her wake throughout the back bothered me, the post-apocalyptic realm isn’t exactly a comfortable place.
My net complaints fall to this: premise is underdeveloped, New America and the King were sort of… “lame”, for lack of a better term, Eve made a few unacceptable decisions that totally depressed me, and struggling through the first somewhere-between-third-and-half of the book was like breathing sawdust. My suggestion? Stick it out anyway! The characters became dynamic and fun, and the plot warped into something exciting and clever. The ending absolutely killed me, which is always a good sign, and though I’d like to point fingers, I’m pleased (more like absolutely giddy) that the blurb for the sequel promises some revision on that. Note: I am absolutely, positively, undeniably reading the sequel.
I recommend this for fans of Hollowland by Amanda Hocking, The Host by Stephanie Meyer, and Strange Angels by Lili St Crow.