Mar 9, 2015

Review: Dove Arising by Karen Bao

TitleDove Arising
Author: Karen Bao
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: February 24, 2015
Pages/Format: 336, ARC
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Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom:  that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

Book in One Word: LIKE.

Dove Arising had an element I wish I saw in more books: a space setting. Unfortunately, I never really felt like I was in space; the setting wasn't lush enough. With elements reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies--though not blatantly or in a way that bothered me--this is the tale of a government that's not all it's cracked up to be, and a girl's fight to care for her family--and it takes place on the Moon over three hundreds into the future (they have screens in their hands).

Meet Phaet. She hasn't talked much since her father died in an accident nine years ago, when she was six. She works in the Greenhouse on Base IV (the Moon is composed of bases, like we have states) with her best friend (and probably future husband) Umbriel, where she works for a meager wage to help her mom care for her and her younger siblings, the sensitive Anka and super hacker extraordinaire Cygnus. And then one day her mother is taken away--because she's "sick and contagious"--and arrested. To avoid going to Shelter--think District 12, super grimy, full of mistreated people--Phaet enlists in the Militia, even though she's only fifteen, so that she can make enough money to keep her siblings from the horrible Shelter.

This started out kind of info-dumpy and I was quickly bored (and wanted to set it aside), but when Phaet entered military training the story really started to pick up, there was a bit of an engrossing factor, and the story started getting good. Military training was kind of like Dauntless initiation in Divergent; there are different tasks, and they all add up to give each member a ranking, and of course, the higher the ranking, the better. I thought these scenes and parts of the book were fun, and it was nice to see Phaet's character develop as she made friends and got stronger. Most of the secondary characters were kind of just there, except for Wes, who I really liked. And I wouldn't say there's a love triangle--romance isn't huge in this--but I ship Phaet with Wes, Sorry not sorry, Umbriel.

Originally, this had a gorgeous cover. And when I saw the redesign I was like WHYYY. But since reading the book, I think the new cover is actually more fitting. There really isn't a way to say this nicely, but I think the original cover would've created too high of expectations for Dove Arising, and suggested a higher quality novel (gosh, that sounds mean). The writing was too simple--sometimes it felt like an essay--world building could've been stronger, some of the dialogue was awkward and unnatural, and some of Phaet's internal dialogue and actions made we want to kind of roll my eyes. It lacked...maturity, almost. Some people will love this, but for me, it just wasn't quite up to my standards.

All that said, I did like Dove Arising! And more so than not! In fact, I want to get my hands on the sequel and see what happens after where the story left off (though I don't need it). Parts of the story were predictable, but I like how--or where--it ended. Dove Arising is a slight page-turner that pulls you in through Moon Militia training, then keeps you going by adding in dire situations. It certainly wasn't perfect and had enough issues to keep me from loving or really liking it, but again--I want the sequel.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Probably not.
Would I purchase it? I'm in no need to have this on my shelves.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of space settings--the moon!--and books with a focus on military-style training, with some twists.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of the book.

1 comment:

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