(When I first read this a few months ago, I only gave it 3.5 stars. Now, after reading the two other books in the series (I’ll write reviews for those soon), I’ll give it between 4 and 5 stars.)
This was definitely an entertaining book. All the characters were well-developed and well-rounded. The plot was unique. I don’t usually read young adult dystopian, but I’m glad I read this. I enjoyed it, and I do intend on reading the next books in the series.
It’s set sometime in the near future, when a disease called IAAN has wiped out more than half of kids aged 8 to 14 in the United States. The kids who do survive are left with strange abilities as a result of the disease. They are sorted into categories based on their abilities: Greens are incredible intelligent, Blues can move things without touching them, Yellows control electricity, Oranges control people’s minds, and Reds control fire. The surviving kids are carted off to “rehabilitation camps”, otherwise known as concentration camps, because they’re seen as a hazard. But some kids manage to escape the concentration camp fate, either because they went into hiding or are on the run.
Ruby is ten when she is brought to Thurmond, one of the largest camps. She is sixteen when the real story begins. She manages to pose as a Green, which is considered the safest type of IAAN-surviving kid, but she is in fact an Orange.
Ruby: She was excellent! Alexandra Bracken did a fantastic job at making her real. She was the perfect narrator, and although her character development was slow and subtle, if you compare the Ruby from the beginning to the Ruby at the end, she changed drastically (for the better).
Liam: He, also, was excellent. He and Ruby were my two favorite characters. His personality was so clear, but he wasn’t an archetype, and although his character development wasn’t as drastic as Ruby’s, he definitely changed over the course of the story.
“He’s so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they’re holding in their hand.”
Chubs: I thoroughly enjoyed reading about him. He was the quintessential sidekick, but he had some twists to him that made him different. He’s smart, he’s sarcastic, and he “stitches” for fun. I couldn’t believe what happened to him!!
“It feels like we should do something,” he said. “Like, send her off on a barge out to sea and set her on fire. Let her go out in a blaze of glory.”
Chubs raised an eyebrow. “It’s a minivan, not a Viking.”
Zu: She was so sweet and smart, and the relationship between her and Liam was very well done. I kept hoping she would say something at the end of the story, but. . . no. Maybe in the next book.
Clancy: I knew from the very moment they realized he was the Slip Kid that he was not the great person he made himself out to be. Ruby should have known that he couldn’t have been a real friend.
About the ending—wow. I was expecting them to all get into a car and ride off into safety while waiting for the next book, but of course not. Chubs better still be alive in the next book. . . . And I never would have expected that Ruby would erase herself from Liam’s memory. She spent the entire time she knew him trying to make sure she didn’t accidentally do it.
Ruby ended up in almost a worse position at the end of the story than she was at the beginning of it. Zu is gone, Chubs is dying, and Liam doesn’t remember her.