"The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment--to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.
But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn't an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing--not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science--is going to stop him.
Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn't possibly have bargained for..."
Thank you to the author, Joel Ohman, for gifting me with a copy of Meritropolis in exchange for an honest review!
You know, I'm really feeling lists today... let's make a list of awesomeness for this book!
1. The concept. This whole book revolved around the fact that general human society imploded and it affected both the environment and the remaining humans. Animals started breeding with other species so there are all these crazy hybrids running around. Everyone (or everyone that the MC's know of) lives in this city called Meritropolis and whether you get to stay within the safety of it's walls entirely depends on your usefulness. So once you are crippled or considered vastly unattractive (for future breeding purposes) you're cast out of the gates and you presumably die. Pretty hard-core, right? The System is what decides if you stay or go and everyone has a number - the higher the better. This whole situation is just so cool to me and the way it's slowly revealed throughout the book really builds the anticipation for the MC's to find something truly incriminating of The System. It's so artfully crafted with each element bringing something useful to the table. More about each of the individual aspects in the next paragraphs.
2. The hybrids. I don't want to give any more than I already have so I'll just say that the pictures were so great. They illustrate the different hybrids and really help you get a picture in your mind of what they look like.
3. The System. I've also already mentioned this one so I'll just say this: while it isn't necessarily a new dystopian idea, Mr. Ohman did a fabulous job of implementing it into the story. It's fully explained and integrated, allowing you to see how it dominates the lives of everyone in Meritropolis.
4. The bigger villain. This part sort of reminded me of the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi. The whole idea is that, while there is an immediate villain within the city of Meritropolis, there is a much larger villain lurking beyond the gates (not the hybrids). It's like how in Ignite Me, Juliette conquers Warner's father but there is still the whole system to take down (and before she defeated his father, she had to 'defeat' him). I really like that idea and it advances the theme that the greater evil isn't always what's looking us in the face and you never really know true evil because things can always get worse.
5. The characters. I really liked all of the main characters. They all had such different personalities that came through. One thing, though: the romance seemed slightly strange and I think the book really could have done without it.
6. The different POV's. I can't even tell you how much the different POV's added to the story. They flowed perfectly into each other while still remaining distinct voices of the different characters. Integrating multiple POV's allowed for a much more comprehensive look at the story.
The Final Verdict:
Very well-written book with comprehensive POV's, fully integrated concepts, and a larger villain. Overall, I'm very excited for the next book!
"There were many avenues available to getting exactly what he wanted."
"In quiet moments like this, all alone, Charley could only half-glimpse what he knew deep down inside to be true. The person he hated most was the one who had let Alec be taken away without even a protest or a fight. The passive coward who had just watched as Alec was hauled off by those snatching, grabbing government-sanctioned kidnappers. The person he hated most was himself."
"'The path to paradise begins in hell,' she replied."
"'But in a lot of ways it's the same old story - men in power do unspeakable things to those weaker. Call it the System; call it whatever you want.'
'Right. So revolution it is, then.' The way she said it was flippant, but the way she looked at Charley made him glad she was on his side."
"It was a strategy as old as war itself: burn the bridges, burn the barns, burn the crops - leave nothing for the other side."