23# Book Review–★★★☆☆
The book is set in a dystopian world where the government decides who you will marry, and bear children with. At the age of six, you are assigned a partner (based on how compatible your genetic codes suggest you are) and your whole life basically revolves around the institution of marriage. You have to say ‘I love you’ to this assigned partner of yours every time you meet. At age seventeen, you have a first kiss ceremony. After high school you have to live in together & only after marriage at age 24 are you allowed to have sex and then, bare children. Those who go against this norm, commit adultery, love someone else, are homosexuals, are shunned from the society. Their faces are scarred and they are sent to Lornstown, a remote town on the outskirts of the state where you have to live with the rest of the outcastes, isolated from the society.
Tracey & Piren are two best friends, part of this system, assigned to someone else, someone they are not compatible with. Partners are supposed to be like two puzzle pieces, who fit together perfectly, but not in their case. While the world around them shows couples who are made for each other, they feel like a bunch of misfits. As they grow up, their platonic relationship morphs into something more. They feel this connection that gets too difficult to ignore. Add in strict parents and teachers who are constantly trying to keep you apart because it is forbidden to be close to a member of the opposite gender unless they are your partner or family.
This book traces their journey, of how they slowly become best friends, then fall in love, and then go against everything they’ve ever known to pursue what means the most to them.
Okay, so let’s get one thing straight. This book is a shitty Dystopian novel. As for romance, well, it’s pretty average. I’ve read a few best friend romances, written one myself actually, and this one didn’t even live up to that. You might argue that the premise here is different, which is why it isn’t fair to compare it to a normal romance novel. But that’s the thing, the premise does nothing for this book. It isn’t as strong and believable as a premise in Dystopian novel ought to be. It fails to establish the history and context behind its existence. Like, I get it, health and diseases inspiring the government to genetically determine one’s mate. But something rather severe and life threatening should have happened to morph the government into a totalitarian one.
Here’s the reason I would have given if I’d written this book:
A deadly virus spread through Earth killing off major parts of the population, almost bringing humanity to extinction. Worried, scientists tried to create a cure, but failed. So as an alternative, they tried to create off springs with strong immune systems, very healthy off-springs. For this, they matched the genetic codes of the DNA of the people. Then a select group of people were put in quarantine and they had to mate and create very healthy babies. Eventually society was reborn, through them, and a gazillion years later—this is the system.
So yeah, like I was saying, the book wasn’t successfully able to create a believable historical context. This is one of the biggest reasons this book doesn’t work as a Dystopian novel. Even after, we do not see the concept of ‘partnership’ being promoted by the govt. and law as much as you see the parents and teachers doing it. Like sure, I get it, it’s usually people in your nearest vicinity who promote such things, but I wish the role of the govt. was more, to get a feel. I wish it felt more…dangerous, to love someone you’re not supposed to. You get sent to Lornstown? Cool. Sure it might be bad, but they don’t even harm you that much, and let you go with the one you love. So how can that be bad? It wasn’t exactly the scary, forbidden love I would have preferred. It felt essentially normal. Kinda like a strict bunch of parents and teachers from orthodox communities constantly telling you to stay away from the opposite gender. So Dystopian? Not much.
Now, moving onto the romance part. I’ve read a bunch of best friend romances. They were much better than this one, in all honesty. The book was too long. 371 Pages I think, was a little too much for a story that focuses solely on the relationship & drama of two people. The drama wasn’t that dramatic. It was pretty basic and mundane, and kind of a drag. Like I get that the author was trying to establish the character’s bond and everything, but some of the chapters were just not needed and served no real purpose. There were too many filler chapters.
The characters were pretty basic, and normal. I didn’t get attached to them, or connected deeply.
I see all these people giving away five star reviews, they’ve obviously not read good romance novels or dystopian novels. It was a decent blend of both, leaning more towards the romance part. This wasn’t a page turner, I’m sorry. It didn’t make my heart race, and didn’t melt me in a puddle of goo. It was okay. The ending was a little rushed. The author did not exploit the dystopian premise of the book effectively. True dystopian lovers will obviously not be happy with this book. As for romance lovers, well if you’re as picky as me you might feel a little disappointed but it’s a decent one time read.