Published by Hachette Children's on January 1st 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Seventeen-year-old Prenna James emigrated to New York when she was twelve. But Prenna didn't come from a different country, she came from a different time - a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they're from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she's told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth and take the lives of her younger brothers. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan. She might be able to save the world ... if she lets go of the one thing she's found to hold on to.
So I found this book to be a pretty enjoyable little late middle grade/early YA read. There are definitely some problems with the plot, largely – that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But if you’re willing to kick back and suspend reality (it is a book about time travel, after all) you might find it enjoyable.
The weakest point of this novel is the world building. Prenna and the other immigrants come back from a world ravaged by disease. But why? The author explores the why in little snippets but never spends enough time on it. I mean clearly it’s for a better life – but they don’t really appear to have a better life. She’s more interested in the love story between Prenna and Ethan, which in itself I have some issues with.
There are also some heavy themes about global warming and a rough imagining of what the consequences of a wetter, warmer world could be like. But again, the author sacrifices what could be a really deep and important theme for a boring love story. I say ‘boring’ teenage girls may say ‘thrilling’, regardless what might have been a timeless classic is turned into fluff because of this. It’s a rough attempt at speculative fiction that fails.
Okay, let’s get feminist. At the close of the book the author insinuates that the entire fate of the world rests on Prenna’s ability to remain a virgin, presumably forever. So Prenna’s virginity, not her smarts, or her bravery demonstrated in her standing up to the Community Leaders, becomes the centerpiece of the book. I hated that. I hate the message. I don’t want girls to be inundated with messages that permissive sexuality is all cool – I also don’t care for the message that a girl’s virginity (or sexuality) is the most important thing about her. Which is what I got from the ending of this book. Boo.
Despite all that, this book was readable enough and a nice distraction. I didn’t realize this was the ‘Traveling Pants’ author (which I never read, only saw the movie under duress). If you’re looking for a little loose dystopia/apocalyptic fun, maybe pick it up. If you choose not to, you’re not going to miss anything groundbreaking.