Lona Sixteen Always is not herself - quite literally. She lives her life virtually through the experiences of Julian, a boy who was chosen as a role model for the Pathers of Quadrant 1 - troubled children who have been 'rescued' by the government and put 'on-Path'. But one day Lona finds she can think for herself. And on top of that, the face of a familiar boy appears on her screen - Fenn, who she thought had moved on to a different stage of the Path last year. But he didn't. Fenn and other rebels like him have strayed from the Path, and now Lona must stray too. But life off-Path is strange and difficult, and Lona uncovers a secret that will threaten all their lives. Can there really be life after the Path?
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Stray is Monica Hesse's debut novel, which was released in June 2013. Thanks to Easons for sending me this book for a review.
I did not know what to expect going into this book. I had not heard any hype or read any other reviews before I read it and that made me even more excited to read it and write my review. I also really dislike the cover. I don't picture the characters clothes in that way, neither do I picture the pods in that way. When I first read the synopsis, I thought that the books romance would be rushed because of the action side of the plot taking over the novel. This was not the case.
The plot if this book was interesting. When I first started reading it I found myself thinking it was similar to Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans, but as I read on I realised that it was so much better. Although the first 80 or so pages did not have me gripped to the book, I did enjoy the book. The plot of this book was not totally drowned by the action. I really liked this as the plot had many elements, such as mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, sci-fi, and was not just solely wrote around the action side of the plot. I thought the plot was a really interesting concept. I also thought that the pacing of the plot was really good. Just the right amount of plot twists paced evenly apart to keep the reader captivated. I only wish some more of the history of the program and Julian were explained.
The characters of the book were well written. I really enjoyed the gang of Fenns friends. I loved their tight knit friendship and how they accepted Lona into their group. I liked that the characters were not perfect. Each character had their own flaw and this made the character feel a lot more realistic to the reader. I also liked the character of Genvieve, who for me had the most depth and backstory. At first she seemed to be a character I disliked but she really grew on my as the novel progressed. Julian was also a character of many layers, an enigma really. The stray children were also amazingly unique .
The romance side of the book was quite well done. There were some bits I was unhappy with overall I did enjoy the way the relationship between Lona and Fenn came about. Their relationship spawned from friendship, which is something I really enjoy in a novel. The transition from friends to "more-than-friends" was subtle, slow and real. It was really well written, although I sometimes felt it became the focus of the novel a little too often for my liking.
The writing style of the novel was really good. I loved Hesse's ability to create dimensional characters, each with their own flaws and unique traits .I also really thought that the book made the reader think about some serious things such as, What is the definition of "Perfect" or "Normal" or "Average" ? Why do we strive to be those things? Is this the way the future could go? Do we learn from doing or being taught ? And other things similar to this. This book was really good if you're looking for a book that'll make you think.
The world and plot of the book was initially something I thought would be similar to another book, but Hesse took the idea and made it her own. She really did take the idea and bring it to another level. The sci-fi element of the book was also just enough to make me want to geek out! She also dealt with two, and sometimes three, character narrations in the story really well. The transitions from each characters POV was smooth and easy. Although this book did not receive a 5 star rating from me, I hope this is the first book in a series as I am so excited to see what happens next.
Four Star Book
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