Sunday, November 6, 2016

Review Sunday: The Union by T.H. Hernandez


The Union #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.

Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.

When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving her boyfriend, Bryce, her ideal world is turned upside down. What she learns while in the Ruins shakes her faith in everything she’s ever known, from Bryce, to her family, and even the Union itself.

Now Evan must choose whether to stay with Cyrus, the sexy, resourceful survivor who believes she’s in the Ruins for a reason, or return to the only life she’s ever known. But when she stumbles upon a dangerous plot that threatens both worlds, her decision could tear her apart.

The Union is a futuristic young adult romantic adventure."

Review:
In general, I liked this book.  It was an enjoyable read and kept me interested.  However, there were some elements that just felt like they had been done before.  Perhaps it's the dystopian genre that's getting tired and this book has the unfortunate privilege of coming late in the dystopian game.  For a debut book (at least, as far as I can tell, it's a debut book), it's pretty good.  Let's get into some specifics, shall we?

1.  The plot.  This is the element that suffers the most from cookie-cutter syndrome.  There are some new things added in, though, that add a fascinating element to the plot.  For example, one of the societies, the Union, is a utopia which I haven't read a lot of.  The contrasting society (the old world, so to speak), I have read a lot of, unfortunately, and is quite prevalent in the dystopian genre.  As for the plot line, it was a bit predictable (but again, I think this is partially because of my expansive experience with books that nothing can surprise me anymore).  Girl grows up sheltered, finds out a terrible truth, learns about herself and changes and grows, things go wrong, etc, etc.  This plot line, though a bit tired, was well executed, however, and kept me interested and reading (I read this in one shot).

2.  The characters.  I really liked the characters.  Unlike plot lines, I find that characters are a bit easier to customize and personalize so each one is a little bit different than the next even if they do fit into archetypes.  I really got to know the characters in this book well for such a short time frame (usually the first book is a bit low on character development because of the nature of being the first book in the series).  Each was entirely unique and had their own story which I loved.  The MC's friends were a little on the underdeveloped side though (although that's to be expected as they didn't play much of a role in this book).

3.  The setting.  One thing I think this author nailed is the setting and descriptions.  Every environment is so detailed and I can picture everything in my mind.  It doesn't get too crazy like Lord of the Rings but it's just enough so you can get a clear picture and not be bored if paragraphs of descriptions aren't your cup of tea.

4.  The writing.  For the most part, I think the author did a fabulous job.  I do wish they had capitalized on the dramatic and emotionally charged moments a little more (AKA deaths, fight scenes, injuries, etc).  They were done in one sentence and felt like everything else so the emotional highs and lows were a little lacking for me.  This ties into the romances because while I did like them, I didn't feel much for them beyond that.

The Final Verdict:
This is a very nicely written book, if a little on the basic side.  The imagery and setting are marvelous and pair well with the wonderfully developed characters.  However, I do think the emotional side of the writing could be improved and adding some extra, unexpected twists to the plot would do a great service to this novel.
3.5 stars

6 comments:

  1. It's hard to judge a book when you've read a million like it. I used to read so many mysterys that I could tell you who done it almost from page one. Once you're familiar with a genre it's hard to be a fair judge. That's why I try to read such a variety of genres. But I kind of suck at it.

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    1. For sure! I'm actually trying to stay away from dystopia's now because there's only so much variety in that particular genre and the earlier books snapped it all up. I'm definitely trying to diversify as well! Being well-versed in a genre isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Then you know how the book compares to other books in the genre.

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  2. I am glad you could really like the setting and the characters in this novel. Those two are really the most important factors to me when it comes to reading. But it's just a shame about the plot being so cliche and not really diverting from the usual storylines much. It makes it predictable!

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    1. For me as well! The character especially can really make or break a book. For sure! And maybe it's because I've read so many books, but it's still important to be different and unique. Thanks for stopping by, Olivia!

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  3. I think if I'm going to pick up a dystopian that isn't an early work of sci-fi, I would want it to be complex. The bar has been set pretty high for me lately as I finished a lot of Octavia E. Butler's books, and she always managed to make her books simple and complex at the same time. I also like emotional resonance in my dystopian books- that's about half of why I read them... and also, I like when they end on a hopeful note. ;)
    Great review, Laura!
    ~Litha Nelle

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    1. I agree with you: after reading such wonderful sci-fi books, it's hard to go back. Dystopia's in general have such a need to be unique because there are only so many ways the world can end. Ending on a hopeful note is always a plus although I'm not opposed to the world exploding at the end :) It'd certainly be unique!

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