Another dystopian teen drama…

17934493Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 8, 2014 (Young Adult)*

My rating: Beach vacation, maybe (2.5/5)

Plus One is another dystopian teen drama. And while I am definitely tired of the dystopia theme in my YA reading, I will concede that Plus One has an original concept.

Soleil Le Coeur is a seventeen-year-old living in a bizarre society. Plague has decimated the population and the result of that has been a complete division of people. One group of people, the upper class, live during the daylight hours; they are the ‘Rays.’ The other group, the ‘Smudges’ live during the nighttime and are considered inferior to the Rays. Sol is a Smudge along with her sick grandfather and her brother. Life’s okay until her brother is taken by the government and moved to Ray status because of his ‘skills.’ Sol’s no longer in contact with her brother, but when she learns that he’s married and had a child she decides that her grandfather must see his great-grandchild before he dies. Naturally, kidnapping a newborn is the obvious solution.

While Sol finds herself on the run she is reluctantly joined by Hugh D’Arcy, a doctor in training. He brings a much-needed voice of reason to Sol. As if kidnapping wasn’t bad enough, Sol and Hugh stumble into a conspiracy that threatens their lives. On the run, they both learn things about their world that they were better off not knowing.

I read Plus One pretty quickly, but I can’t say that I loved the book. It was darker than I expected it to be, especially in the second half. Nothing terrible happened to the main characters, but learning about the society and how some people, like the Noma’s, were treated was sad. Not really unexpected in a dystopia, but still disturbing. I was definitely expecting this one to have a strong romantic element, so I didn’t see the dark side of things coming. Ultimately, this was a good thing because it added a layer of complexity to an otherwise simplistic storyline.

The romance plot was decent, but it didn’t break new ground for me. I’m not sure if, by this point, I’ve just read too many other similar novels, but I just didn’t feel excited about the forbidden romance. It’s been done before. And to top it all off there is a monumental coincidental connection between Sol and Hugh. This created a measure of artifice that I couldn’t get passed. It didn’t seem believable and it brought to the forefront the other problem with believability that I had with Plus One: the division of society.

I have to admit I just don’t think the premise for the society in Plus One is possible. I don’t buy that people would be divided into some living during the day and the rest during the night because this was the only way of curing a plague. I can’t imagine that something like that is possible to enforce. I feel that this required suspense of belief that wasn’t possible for me.

So for my verdict – it was okay. I didn’t love the story. I didn’t understand Sol’s thought process for her insane plan. And I thought the romance was a little too convenient. It’s not a world that I feel I want to go back to and it’s probably something you would find enjoyable if you are still on the dystopia bandwagon. The writing style was good and I liked the inclusion of French elements, but in the end, I wasn’t completely satisfied.

*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Similar Reads

No similar read this time out. I’m completely tapped out for original dystopias. Anything that I can think of at the moment is pretty much known to most readers, unless you’ve been living under a rock. If someone’s got something original for me, I’d love a recommendation!



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