Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Source: won an ARC in a giveaway held by Reading Angel
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war—and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.
Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
WARNING: The proceeding review contains some necessary & unavoidable spoilers. It also contains my honest uncensored thoughts, feelings, and opinions. I don't bite my tongue, and I really did not like this book. So, if you can't handle any of that, then I suggest you move along.
Alrighty, let's begin.
First of all, I honestly did not think anyone could outrank Divergent's Tris on my Most Annoying and Unlikable YA Heroines of the Year list. I was wrong. So very wrong. Juliette from
Yep, as you may have already guessed it, Juliette was probably my biggest issue with this book. For almost the entire story, the chick didn't do much more than whine, cry, tremble, shake, faint/almost-faint, get injured, gasp, freeze in place, blush, and trip over her own feet. Oh wait! Sorry. There's one more thing. She also ogled the male characters around her (cheesetastic villain included) over & over again regardless of how inappropriate the situation or timing happened to be. She was weak, ridiculously melodramatic, and nauseatingly insecure.
Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. Juliette had a tough childhood. She was turned into a social pariah, bullied, and locked away in solitary confinement for almost a year. Thus, it's natural for there to be some emotional/psychological ramifications of those experiences. Yes, I agree, and I understand being traumatized and feeling scared & unsure of oneself because of what's happened and because of having such a dangerous ability.
However, when faced with frightening, difficult circumstances, there are two types of people that emerge. The first type of individual allows their circumstances to break them—to turn them into a passive doormat unable to do anything but dwell on all of the negativity and on their own shortcomings. The second type of individual takes that fear & pain and channels it into inner strength & determination to eventually try to find a way to change their circumstances—to fight for a better life and not let others define who they are.
I wish Juliette had been more of the latter, but unfortunately she was mostly the former. Every couple of pages for the majority of the book, the reader is told by Juliette how much she hates herself, how much she thinks she should die, how helpless & useless she is, how practically everything terrifies her, and how nervous & ashamed she constantly feels. In fact, she didn't really start developing a backbone or a sense of self-worth until the last few chapters, and regrettably this was not done for her own sake, but primarily for Adam's benefit and based almost solely on his love for her. And no, I don't consider her mouthing off to Warner as a sign of bravery & strength (not when she did next to nothing to back it up). Juliette talked the talk, but couldn't walk more than a couple of steps before falling flat on her face.
Then there were the following two passages that made me want to bitch slap this book into oblivion:
"Warner grips my hips and allows his hands to conquer my body. He tastes like peppermint, smells like gardenias. His arms are strong around me, his lips soft, almost sweet against my skin. There’s an electric charge between us I hadn’t anticipated."
"I replay the moment over and over and over in my mind. The split second I took too long to jump from the window. The moment of hesitation that changed everything. The instant I lost all control. All power. Any point of dominance. He’s never going to stop until he finds me and it’s my own fault."Allow me to first address passage #1. Warner is a sociopathic, homicidal, creepy megalomaniac, who wants to manipulate and OWN Juliette like a shiny new toy/weapon. He has her beaten, forces her to hurt others, terrorizes her, and tries to murder the guy she loves. But despite all of that, Juliette (on several occasions) takes a moment to admire how handsome he is, how beautiful his eyes are, and how attractive his voice sounds. On top of that, she apparently finds herself enjoying being kissed by him and describes the experience in a way that implies it to be sexy & romantic.
Oh, hell to the no! That is so frakked up on so many levels. How am I supposed to relate to and have respect for such a heroine? Ugh!! I'm thoroughly disturbed & disgusted. And I swear on my beloved jar of Nutella that if I find out Warner gets turned into a love interest in the sequel, I'm gonna go buy a copy of the book just so that I can put it through my paper shredder and then light it on fire (all the while yelling, "Burn motherfrakker burn!!").
Anyways, passage #2 is no less guilty of eliciting my anger. There are two major problems I have with it. Numero uno is that it's essentially an example of victim blaming, which is never okay. Warner is the only one responsible for his actions. He is a damaged, obsessive man-boy driven by his own delusions and twisted desires/motivations. He's the one who chose to hunt Juliette. He's the one who chose not to stop. Juliette did not bring that upon herself. She did not choose to become his prey nor did she do something to encourage his sick behavior. To make a statement to the contrary is beyond perverse & infuriating.
Problemo numero dos is that the passage presents this maddening notion that the only way for Juliette to have a sense of control and power is through her superhuman ability. Take that away and what? She's inherently & irrevocably defenseless? She's unable to take a stand, to fight back, and to try to protect herself in other ways? Frak you, book!
Sadly, the above complaints make up only the tip of the iceberg. I had many other problems with this book, but for the sake of condensing my review, I've decided to summarize some of them in the following list:
- As another reviewer so astutely pointed out, this book is not dystopian fiction. In reality, it is a paranormal romance that takes place in a dystopian setting.
- It is also not an action-packed adventure. By my count, there was a total of two semi-action scenes.
- The romance was sappy (so sappy it made me dry heave a little), and I never felt the love between Adam & Juliette. What I did feel was a whole lot of raging hormones that had the protagonists trying to tear each other's clothes off at the most inopportune times & places.
- The unique writing style only worked half the time. In many instances, the strikethroughs & metaphors seemed contrived & convoluted and made little to no sense. The sporadic aversion to proper punctuation, and the random use of frequently random numbers also drove me a bit bonkers.
- Too many things were overly convenient & unbelievable. A few examples: both the love interest & bad guy were immune to Juliette's deadly touch, both Juliette & Adam were immune to radiation allowing them to escape from their pursuers, a car with keys in the ignition and bags full of groceries was left behind just when the protagonists needed it the most, Juliette was able to follow a trail of blood directly to the exact location Adam was being held prisoner, and Juliette's superhuman strength miraculously made a brief appearance at the precise moment she needed to break down a steel door.
- Plus, what I found to be outright silly was the fact that despite being imprisoned for 200+ days, not allowed out into the sunlight, and provided with very minimal hygienic supplies & food, Juliette doesn't end up looking emaciated & unhealthy (with brittle hair and dull bruised skin) as would be expected. Instead, she ends up looking like a supermodel, and every male she encounters finds her to be irresistibly beautiful & sexy. (Excuse me while I try to unroll me eyes from the back of my head.)
- Finally, for almost the entire book, there were absolutely no other females present except for Juliette. (I think you can draw your own conclusions from that little tidbit.)