Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: Dove Arising by Karen Bao

Title: Dove Arising:
Author: Karen Bao
Series: Dove Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Release Date: 24 February 2015

Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

I was so excited and looking forward to reading this book, and was beyond excited when I was approved through the Penguin First to Read program. Ultimately there were a few too many issues for me to enjoy this book.

I really should start re-reading the summary blurbs before starting the book - it might save me a lot of concerns and issues. Instead, I spent the first 15% irritated that the main character, Phaet, hadn't said a single word or responded in any sort of way to anyone that spoke to her. Even so, I'll buy the selective-mute aspect of her personality, especially in a society where the likelihood of someone listening is always high, but there could have been some sort of response. Instead she just internally mused, endlessly. Someone asks a question, she thinks about it. Someone states something, she considers it. Someone requests, she contemplates. Then she randomly starts speaking, still sparsely, but it was already beyond irritating to me. I'm not a huge fan of always being in someone's head, hearing about what things are happening and not feeling like we're participating in the scenes as they're happening. There's also the fact that Phaet prickly personality reminded me a lot of Katniss (The Hunger Games) and it's not the first similarity I noted to other books.

The world-building felt patched together. There's a world where people have given up their essential freedoms in order to be kept "safe" on this Lunar colony. But the liberties that have been supplanted are random and don't make sense for a society that is truly concerned with the number of population. There's no regulation on the number of children, or mating ages/rules. There's rent and Committee fees, food costs, and low paying jobs. There are ridiculous laws against any number of things, and there's Big Brother watching all the time through their handscreens - which also provide convenient information about other characters.

Both characters and world, if not done well, are enough to make it so I don't enjoy a book. However, this book also had the issue of not having an actual plot. Phaet ends up at a Militia training facility, trying to earn enough money to support her family and save her mother, but there's no real inducement to any of her actions. She's kind of just going along, doing the bare minimum that she has to do - until she has to do more. Even so, it never feels really necessary. It's just one girl's struggle, and honestly I kept waiting for the moment when "Phaet's logically ordered world begins to crumble..." But by 41% into the book there was just...nothing.

Back to those similarities that I was mentioning - Phaet's personality reminds me a lot of Katniss, the training reminds me a lot of Tris' in Divergent, the unrequited love interest (as her oldest friend) reminds me a lot of Gale and Katniss' dynamic. Then there's the new boy, who's quiet and mysterious and trying to help Phaet out....and he just might have feelings for her that are a bit more, which - of course - reminds me of Peeta. I could draw comparisons to scenes that I've seen in Ender's Game about the simulations of ship battles.

There's just nothing there to keep me wanting to read on. I do wish I knew what happened, or if there was something worth continuing for, but not enough to keep pushing myself through a book that's doing nothing to hook me.

Grade: DNF

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