Review: Once by Anna Carey
Published July 3rd 2013 by HarperCollins
It’s been over a year ago since I read the first book in the series, Eve. After being quite disappointed by Eve because of the horrible man-hating nature of the books I wasn’t expecting much from Once.
Eve has now arrived in a women-only community where they won’t even give her boyfriend medical care because OMG, he’s a man. For some reason they all hate men, and all the men (called Strays) are rapists or murderers or both. There don’t seem to be any normal guys in the Eve universe, they are either insane or hunky boyfriend material. There are tons of hurdles for Caleb and Eve to overcome, and Eve finally arrives in the famous City of Sand.
I’m having a hard time writing this review because to be very honest nothing happens in Once. It suffers from severe second-book syndrome; it all seems to be a set-up for the third book in the series. It ends on an enormous cliffhanger, to make matters worse. I kept going back and forth on my Kindle, thinking I must be missing a chapter. Once is filled with dozens of secondary characters that we only meet for a few pages and then disappear again, without ever getting to know them or for them to have any other function than existing. The book is filled with Eve moping around in the City of Glass, feeling guilty for leaving her friends behind (gee, newsflash, maybe you should have told them about what you knew about the Schools), and fantasizing about lovey-dovey stuff with Caleb.
Eve had some very sloppy writing in places and the story seemed to move too fast to really make sense. In Once the writing did seem better and more natural to me, and the pace was lowered till something a bit more tolerable. It felt as if Ms Carey had a word goal to hit, and she had to keep making stuff up to reach that goal though. The plot takes some small random detours, but there is no real forward movement. As the story progresses it becomes clearer that the background isn’t complete, and inconsistencies in the backstory are showing. For example, what is up with all the burned out cars? The sun didn’t explode, there was a plague. Why would a plague result in all cars in the world catching fire? If you leave a car outside for a few years, it might get a bit rusty, but there wouldn’t be anything wrong with it. Details show the logic inconsistency the Eve universe is built on.
Once is a mediocre YA dystopian at best. I’ll read Rise to see if something finally changes for the New Americas, but I’m not holding my breath.
When you’re being hunted, who can you trust?
For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She’s living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.
But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.
Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past–and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together–but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.
In this breathless sequel to “Eve,” Anna Carey returns to her tale of romance, adventure, and sacrifice in a world that is both wonderfully strange and chillingly familiar.
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