Rating: Vacation by the beach! (3.5/5)
Uninvited is the first in a new dystopia series from YA and romance author, Sophie Jordan. Having read some of her historical romances, I was quite intrigued to read one of her YA books. Uninvited was an intriguing look at a future of a American society that is ruled by science, and if you’re genetically predisposed to violence, you lose your rights and any expectations that you may have had for your future. This is exactly what happens to Davy Hamilton.
Davy Hamilton has been living a charmed life. She’s a musical prodigy raised by wealthy parents. She’s got a boyfriend who she loves, and who loves her (at least while she is perfect). She doesn’t have any experience with the violence that life can bring. This all changes when she get the results of her mandatory HTS (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome) testing – she’s a carrier of what is called “the kill gene.” Essentially what this means is Davy may be predisposed to certain violent behaviour and may become a killer; however, the government decides that they’re not taking any chances, so they have developed genetic testing to identify these people and keep track of them and their behaviour. When Davy’s marked as a carrier, she’s uninvited from her school and placed in a segregated classroom in the city. Davy’s about to learn all about the other side of life, and her life of privilege has not prepared her for the new restrictions in her life.
Generally, when I pick up a book, I’m much more interested in the characters that inhabit the story. I like books that are character driven and I’m more interested in character relationships than a complex plot. In the case of Uninvited what keep me reading was the fascinating futuristic society that is created. This American future was pretty terrifying. Rights and freedoms are completely taken away from select citizens just because of a gene that may or may not mean you’ll turn into a violent killer. Throughout Uninvited we slowly get an idea of how this has happened, and it’s disturbing that a whole population has let this happen to their friends, neighbours and children. The concept of this gene identification brings to mind the nature vs. nurture debate. Is it your genetics that determine your fate or is it your upbringing? I don’t think Uninvited actually gives a conclusive answer to this question, but it’s clear in Davy’s case, identifying her as a “killer” actually puts her in the situation where she will become violent. Had Davy never been labeled a potential killer I doubt she would have ever been exposed to the more violent side of life and be forced to defend herself. This whole concept was extremely interesting to me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this and it’s implications. If you like this kind of thing, you will enjoy Uninvited.
What ended up falling a little flat for me were the characters. Like a said, I’m all about the character driven plot, but in this case, I just didn’t feel invested with the characters. I was more focused on how this dystopia functioned, and I was not as intrigued with Davy and those she interacted with. There wasn’t anything to dislike about Davy. Despite her affinity for music, I felt like she was a pretty normal girl forced into extraordinary circumstances. But, I didn’t think she was any different from the many other female leads in dystopia-land. I don’t think that’s a bad thing; it clearly works, but I would have liked to have been a little more invested in her as a person rather than as a vehicle to learn more about the world.
Ultimately, I enjoyed Uninvited and I would read the next book in the series to find out more about the society. I want to know about the people who want to fight back against the government, and I want to know if they will succeed. I’m much less interested in Davy and her romantic life. This is a novel feeling for me, since I’m usually all about the romance – I guess there’s a first time for everything!
*Review copy provided by the publisher.
For another dystopian that takes a look at a futuristic America try the Article 5 trilogy (I’ll be reviewing the conclusion to this one in early February). Like Uninvited, it’s chilling to see how society has become controlled by the few rather than a true democracy. Although, I personally feel that the romance in Article 5 was more engaging.
If you were intrigued by the identification process for HTS carriers, check out Never Fade. In this case, it’s not the DNA that’s getting people labeled, it’s psychic abilities, and these make just as many people terrified as the general population is of HTS carriers in Uninvited.
The genetic element definitely caught my eye in Uninvited and if you’re looking for genetic manipulation I urge you to consider the futuristic Violet Eyes duology. Angel and Mike are both the product of genetic modification. They were basically created to be perfect, and their creator is ready to test their skills. This is one of my favourite books from my teen years.