The booklikes version of my book blog, so if you only want to read about the stuff I post on books, here it is!
First of all, I cannot emphasize enough that I think this book is worth sticking through the first quarter or hundred pages. I only feel the need to bring this up, because I was surprised by the amount of one-star ratings I saw for this book and realized the reason for them was overwhelmingly that people gave up on it about 20-25% in. I’ll be honest, I don’t blame those people who did. The first part of the book really seems like it is setting up to be another run-of-the-mill dystopian YA book like Hunger Games or Divergent. However, while it does not go into a completely different direction I think that the latter part of the book is incredibly well done and more than makes up for the stale beginning.
There are several things that I really liked about the way this book handled itself after the initial set up. The first was that I enjoyed the relationships between characters. Most importantly, I liked the way the main character (Joy) was developed. There was a lot of internal monologue by Joy, as often happens in these kinds of books, but also actually interacted with several other characters including her Otherworld hounds which greatly improved the monotony that occasionally occurs. The friendships she developed were well written and nothing seemed overdramatic and were still quite compelling. Most importantly to me, she was in no way spurred on purely through romantic interest of any kind. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when it comes to strong female characters. I think that she was a nice balance between still being the young girl she is and being incredibly strong and mature when the time called for it (as expected of a heroine). The book is not devoid of romantic interest, which I think could also ring somewhat false or hollow, but it is very much a subplot that informs feelings and decisions but in no way could be considered a major part of the novel.
The other thing I thought was handled quite well that worried me at first were the Christians (referred to as Christers in the book). I hate to admit I went from laughing about the fact that they were angry that this cataclysmic event was not the apocalypse to beginning to cringe about how they were being talked about for the most part (again in the first hundred pages or so). Again though, I think that this was beautifully handled in the subsequent sections of the novel when Joy befriends a Christer hunter nicknamed “White Knight” and we get to see her much more nuanced and interesting relationship with them as a whole.
Also, the hounds are really cool and I want some.
Overall, I don’t think this book will blow your socks off and if you can’t deal with a slow start it is not for you, but if you can get past that and like this sort of novel I think you will be well rewarded with the rest of it.