Earth is no longer inhabitable and humanity has been forced to move underground. The wealthy elite have bankrolled these underground compounds, separating each floor by wealth. Eve, a 16-year-old hobby fighter, will stop at nothing to break free of her violent compound and see Earth, even if it means death.
This book is a straight-up cross between “Snowpiercer” and “The 100.” Rather than a train, the main action takes place underground, with the lowest floor being the poorest citizens, and the highest floor being the wealthy elite who control the government and have their choice of professions. Similarly to ”The 100,” global warming has made the Earth uninhabitable, or, at least, that is what those in power say. Also like “The 100,” Eve is motivated by the loss of her brother, who was cast out to Earth’s surface because he was a second child. If you like either of those books/shows, you’ll likely enjoy this story, but this first installment does not add anything new to the storyline. That said, the writing is good and the descriptions of life in the compound are captivating. It is the start to a series, so future books could (hopefully) begin moving away from these well-trod tropes.
I do enjoy Eve’s character; she’s strong, loyal, and haunted by trauma in a really relatable way. She is fiercely protective of her friends, including a young woman in an abusive relationship with an upper-class boy. I don’t feel that domestic abuse is discussed often in YA novels, but I really appreciated this representation, both for illuminating why it might be hard to leave an abusive relationship and showing how to be a supportive friend to someone in this situation. The pacing is a little inconsistent, but overall the narrative moves quickly and keeps your attention.
The love interest, Wren, is the brooding, incredibly attractive type. Eve and Wren meet in a hobby fight, where he ends up beating her to a pulp. He takes her to the nurse after, but I did not love this first meeting, nor did Eve’s friends. Theirs is an “insta-love” situation. After beating Eve in the fight, Wren is instantly romantically interested in her and begins joining her for lunch and volunteering. Eve is oblivious to his affection, resulting in a typical “you have no idea how special you are” conversation. This type of romance doesn’t appeal to me, but I am sure that there are fans out there who would love their relationship progression.
Personally, I found this book to be middle-of-the-road. The writing was good, the storyline and themes are something we’ve seen in many books and television shows. I might pick up the next one to see where it goes, but it’s not going to the top of my list.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!