Earlier this year, I went to the launch party of Indigo and four authors were there, chatting about their books. One of which was Sara Grant, whose debut novel, Dark Parties was going to be published in October. And it was a book I wanted to read. It got me very excited. And Indigo had to push it back to late December/early January due to events that were out of their control. Which got me slightly annoyed me. But then I suddenly thought, "Hang on! I can read this before it comes out!" (am writing this the first week of December, FYI!).
So, here we are. With two days before this book comes out and here we go...
Under the Protectosphere, Neva and her friends hold a Dark Party. It's illegal to throw one. In the darkness, they agree to start a small rebellion. Expect, in the dark, someone kisses Neva. Someone who happens to be her best friend's boyfriend. And all the while, Neva has been keeping a list of the Missing - people who vanish and everyone else pretends they never existed. Including Neva's grandmother.
In the quest for truth and freedom, how far will Neva go? And will she ever escape from the dark?
Now, I have to say this from the word go. If you are expecting a dystopian novel like Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games and Vernoica Roth's Divergent, this isn't it. It's more, to me, like Matched by Ally Condie. It's much slower in pace, but there is something completely gripping about this book.
What I loved about this book is Neva and all the other characters know that there's something wrong. They aren't like other characters from dystopian novels where it slowly dawns on them that something's wrong. Neva knows from the word go that's something wrong and something has to be done. She's very pro-active about finding out the truth and trying (not going to say if she got it or not... in the words of River Song, "Spoilers") to get freedom.
Now, I know there will be a few people going "But the dome thing... it's been done before. Under The Dome by Stephen King. The Simpsons' movie." and yes, I saw that too. But this was much more interesting. While in the previous two took place and people had to cope with it, the Protectosphere has be up for years and we saw the effects this had to people as no one could enter or leave. No materials could enter or leave. No new ideas could enter or leave. And because of this, everything is a hand-me-down, history can easily be rewritten and erased (when Neva and her best friend, Sanna discovered the word "globalization", they instantly thought it was a disease) and people are getting sicker and are looking more and more similar. There was one scene that shocked me about this idea of people becoming more and more similar when Neva and Sanna see a statue of one of the founding fathers of the Protectosphere and we were told that he had blue eyes and it was shocking to realise that no one who lives under the Protectosphere has blue or green eyes. That seemed the most shocking thing. And that was in a throw-away comment...!
Now, the whole Neva/Braydon/Sanna love triangle... I don't want to say much but there was one point where I got very angry. So angry, I ranted about it on GoodReads (don't click if you don't want to be spoiled!) then ranted at my other half, the PIW. And it's not the scene you guys are probably thinking... I'm not going to reveal much. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not sure I can say anything at all!
I guess I should say the bad about this. There are times when you might go "Really?" or "That seems a bit two dimensional" and yes, I felt like that, but I fell for this story. I thought it was gripping and I was hooked by it. I want more (even though I tweeted Sara and she said this is a standalone, but the seeds are there so you never know...)!
At the Indigo event, Sara kindly signed my copy. It reads "Make Your Mark". Oh, Sara, this book is your mark! I can't wait to see what you write next...