"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
I rarely give books five stars, but I really couldn't find a lot to criticize about this one. It did rely on some common YA tropes, particularly in its obligatory "forbidden romance" thread, but it did it well enough, and with deeply enough developed characters and compelling enough emotions, that I can't really fault it.
This book reminded me a lot of the "Last Survivors" series by Susan Beth Pfeffer -- except it's darker, and it has aliens. And now that the aliens have come up, it also seems worth mentioning that this is one of the scariest alien books I've read because it feels so believable. Because the aliens look, act, and sound just like us, the whole book sort of messes with your mind as you wonder whose side each character or group is "really" on. It alternates between two separate storylines that converge near the end, and it's one of those rare books in which I felt equally interested in both plots.
I suppose if I were to criticize one thing (probably not worth knocking a star rating down), it would be that there were a few places where I think the author could have exercised just a tiny bit more restraint. We have two primary viewpoint characters, Cassie and Ben, but then there are just a couple chapters from the points of views of other characters. One chapter in particular I think could have been abandoned, since there are other ways we could have learned everything within it, and because the tension might have been higher if Yancey hadn't shown his hand a bit early. Still, this book has a practically airtight plot, strong, believable, and nuanced characters, and writing that is so competent that you don't notice it at all, completely swept away by the story. It's been nominated for the Printz award, and I know Rick Yancey has received accolades for his Monstrumologist series as well (which I haven't read). It was reassuring to me to find that this is, indeed, YA literature at its finest.