by Amy Plum
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I am on fire. A golden statue alight, flames licking around me, melting the snow into puddles at my feet, heating Juneau’s face and reddening her nose and cheeks. She leans in closer until her lips are touching mine. And as she kisses me I disperse into a million tiny flames, sparks flying up into the cold winter air and diffusing once they hit the starry night sky.
Life, as I’ve been telling all my lovely GR friends lately, apparently is not a wish granting factory. I’ve been seeing that a lot lately and I have been in one of those totally depressed, funky moods where yeah, I’m liking books just fine but, I’m not in the best place about it. So when I looked at my Ipad and was trying to decide which dystopian to tackle (that was-and is-what I was in the mood for) I had three or four loaded and ready to go-I narrowed it down to two, and then ultimately chose this one because I’ve been excited about it the most for the longest time-and I chose correctly. I had a smile on my face the minute that Miles and Juneau met-and it very rarely left my face throughout the entirety of the novel.
Life is easier in black and white. It’s the ambiguity of a world defined in grays that has stripped me of my confidence and left me powerless.
These two are complete polar opposites-you couldn’t find a more comical pairing. One lives off the land and is in tune with nature while the other is privileged and pampered and lives in a world where everything has always been handed to him on a silver platter. I loved the dynamics of their relationship and everything in-between. There was no insta-love (GAG) and they were both (knowingly) using each other to get what they needed-it just turns out that they want the exact opposite thing….go figure.
“The guys who are following you…are they dangerous?” Miles asks finally.
“Well, normally I would say that Whit wouldn’t hurt a flea. But from what Poe here told me-”
“Poe?” Miles interrupts.
“The raven,” I say.
“You named the bird?” Miles asks, his voice tinged with a note of hysteria.
I think the biggest reason why I loved this book so much is because it wasn’t full on dystopian and it didn’t try to be. I love this genre, but sometimes authors try way too hard and it doesn’t portray quite what they want to. So, when this didn’t turn out to be a cut and dry survival story, I was kind of excited. Basically, Juneau left her clan to go hunt for food-they live secluded and ‘protected’ from the dystopian like world outside their living site from the after effects of World War III….and when Juneau returns, her dad and the whole clan included have disappeared. She knows she must try to find them immediately with her knowledge of the land and way of Kara (not even going to explain-it’s not that complicated but I would still mess it up). But when she leaves the confines of her camp and starts to get farther and farther away from what she’s always known, she finds out about the biggest betrayal she never would have imagined-there was no WWIII and she has been living a lie. And what’s worse, people are after her-maybe even one of the people she’s trusted her entire life.
“Has it shit on my shirt yet?” Miles asks, his nose wrinkling like he doesn’t really want to know the answer.
“Birds don’t shit while they’re sitting down. They would be sitting in their excrement, and if you haven’t noticed-which of course you haven’t, you”-I can’t think of an insult that fits the bill-“city boy, birds are clean.” I don’t know why I’m getting all defensive about Poe, but I can’t help correcting Mile’s glaring misconception.
“Secondly,” Miles continues, ignoring my argument, “a little while ago, you confirmed my long-held belief that birds don’t talk. Yet you just said that Poe”-he pauses-“I can’t believe I just called it that…this bird told you something.”
“I shouldn’t have said ‘told.’ I should have said ‘showed.'”
“Because that makes a difference?”
Miles lives a life of debauchery and opulence-he repeatedly causes problems in school and has finally been kicked out-a month before graduation. When he hears his father is looking for a girl who is the key to a drug he wants, Miles knows he is more than capable of finding a girl who knows nothing of the city and is virtually a stranger to the world. All he wants is his father’s approval and if he can get it by bringing the girl back in for questioning, he will do anything he can to get that accomplished. But what happens when he meets the girl and travels with her on the journey to find her clan? He starts to get to know her and see what kind of person she is. She’s as clueless as he is about the whole thing-what if his father is wrong and is after an innocent girl….what will he do then? And even more than that, what will he do when he starts to fall for this crazy girl who eats innocent wildlife and forages in the woods and is the complete opposite of his personality-what if she’s exactly what he’s been looking for his whole life: a place where he feels like he belongs. What then?
The touch of our skin sets off a reaction in me. I am immediately awake…100 percent present. And it feels like a whirlwind of thorns is whipping around in my chest, stinging me all over from the inside. That makes it sound painful. It isn’t. It’s the kind of itching sensation that makes you want to do something crazy. That spurs you forward to act on an idea you didn’t even know was in your head.
The dynamic of this story wholly worked for me and there were rarely any parts that bored me. There was information to take in at every twist and turn, but I never felt like I was getting info-dumped. It’s hard to find that in stories-that balance where there’s just enough cute, sweet, tough, travel, info….peril. It’s a delicate process and while I do wish the peril was amped up a bit, I still thought it was wonderfully done and I had hardly a complaint throughout the entire process.
It’s not like she’s wearing a dress. She just has on a pair of black jeans and a red V-neck shirt. But for once they actually fit. Juneau’s not skinny, and you wouldn’t exactly say muscular. But something in between. She’s so much shorter than me that I could easily pick her up. Of course, I refrain since I don’t feel like being punched.
So, all in all, a total win in my book-it takes a lot to make me completely happy, but this book got as close to perfect as I’ve seen in a while. When I’m in a foul mood it is quite a process to make me smile, much less laugh, so when ATE succeeded in both, I knew I would be sad to see it end. Speaking of which-that end?? Awesooooommmeeeeeee! I can’t wait until book two.