Back in Elysium, former Daughter of the People Evie and her Surface Dweller sweetie, Gavin, plot revolution.
Their base of operations is the Caverns, where those who didn’t fit Mother’s distinctly Aryan eugenics template have been hiding out, apparently undetected for decades by Mother and her Enforcers. Complicating their movement are the nanos implanted in every Citizen; they accelerate healing but also serve as a terrifying means of physical control and will wipe the memory of anyone who tries to escape. Nano-free Gavin goes to the Surface to seek Lenore, who may be able to thwart the nanos, while Evie stays behind to foment rebellion. The present-tense narration is shared by Evie and Gavin, toggling back and forth in undistinguished, sometimes actively bad prose as each pursues her or his goal. Gavin learns important truths; Evie struggles with her suspect memories and guilt; they both yearn. (Their eventual reunion is embarrassingly purple.) Souders’ sense of setting and her plotting feel as haphazard as Evie fears her revolution to be, and readers may never feel as though they understand exactly how everything works. A radical but foreshadowed twist at the end calls into question the previous 300-some pages—and the two previous books: a clichéd device that does not redeem the trilogy’s flaws.
Invested readers may well feel terribly cheated; uninvested readers shouldn’t bother. (Dystopian romance. 14-18)