Category romance meets YA dystopia in this poorly executed trilogy opener specializing in juvenile romance and adult violence.
Twelve years after a plague kills off 98 percent of the population, the United States is a monarchy. Girls are educated in boarding schools, reading literary novels and learning to paint and play the piano. Graduates, they’re told, move on to learn a trade or profession. When the eponymous heroine discovers that the only trade they’re headed for is broodmare (imprisoned in Spartan dorms, forcibly and repeatedly impregnated, bearing children in a royal repopulation scheme), she flees west, seeking the safe community of Califia. Finding assorted allies and villains along the way, Eve falls for manly, protective Caleb. (Gender roles are deeply regressive—next to Eve, Bella Swan is a radical feminist.) Conceptually childish, the plot never achieves credibility, in part because the style veers between awful and unintentionally funny. Unanswered questions abound: Why provide future broodmares with an elaborate great-books education? How can jeeps and trucks drive for days across deserts and up mountains without refueling or recharging? Isn’t 12 years a short window for even the most efficient and dedicated evildoers to turn the U.S. into a full-blown dystopia?
Count this calculated effort to surf the wave of popular dystopian romance a wipeout. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)