Summary: Lena lives in a future United States in which it's been decided that love is a fatal disease. Everyone has an operation at age 18 that renders them incapable of love, and then they are paired up with a spouse and told how many children they should have. Lena can't wait for her operation, but her friend Hana is having second thoughts and mixing with a dangerous crowd. Lena is terrified for Hana, until she meets handsome Alex and begins to question everything she's ever thought was right and safe.
Verdict: Cardboard + treacle = book. Move over, vampires/werewolves/fairies, a new shallow romance subgenre has come to town!
Positive: Well, for people who thought Uglies was too bitter and not enough sweet, or that Hunger Games was too bloody and unsettling without enough tongue action, this could be a great change of pace. It's not just dystopia, it's dystopian romance, with all the emphasis on the romance.
Negative: Hugely disappointing! The premise makes no sense. Numbing everyone's emotions like in The Giver? That would create a more peaceful society. Luring everyone into a lobotomy with the promise of physical perfection like in Uglies? That would also do it. But taking away one positive emotion and leaving all the others like anger and hate? That's something a Bond villain would threaten to do unless the UN paid him off. Dystopian novels work best when the dystopian characteristics are things that could logically result from current society.
Speaking of society, this book suffers from a serious world-building deficit. Apparently American society hasn't changed, except no one drives very much because oil is so scarce. So...how is the country still running? How are these deliveries of livestock that are mentioned early on accomplished? You can't move a stock truck without oil and gas! There's none of that funky technology usually associated with this genre. The backstory is paper-thin.
The love story isn't exactly detailed and believable, either. Lena meets Alex, decides he's cute and nice, and then suddenly she's willing to risk her life to be with him. I guess that's understandable, since she's been segregated from boys her entire life. Obviously her hormones are going to latch onto the first attractive male she ever meets. Ever. She's an uber-virgin! But her character and his are so shallow, there's no chemistry.
Also, the book needed to lose 150-200 pages. I got really tired of the long distance runs with the best friend and the endless reflecting and angsting. I didn't feel that the plot picked up until page 300. The fact that I kept going is a huge testament to how much I don't want to do my research paper.
Better dystopian reads: Uglies, Ship Breaker, The Hunger Games, The House of the Scorpion, The Giver, Biting the Sun... There are a lot of options, folks. A lot of options.