Release Date: 04/03/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?
Brimming with danger and star-crossed romance, and featuring a vivid dystopian landscape, this electrifying follow-up to Eve, which bestselling author Lauren Kate called “a gripping, unforgettable adventure—and a fresh look at what it means to love” is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes adventure of The Hunger Games and the irresistible love story of Romeo and Juliet.
My thoughts on the book:
When I pick up a sequel, I expect an improvement over the writing in the first book. That usually is not the case in YA literature, I've noticed. I feel like the author (and the characters) should have learned from the mistakes made in the previous novel. Again, that more often than not, is not the case. Once is one of the many books that falls into the "didn't learn squat" category. This novel picks up a few months after Eve ended. In my opinion, if you loved Eve, then you'll love Once. The books aren't that different as far as what is good versus what is bad. The world-building is still fantastic, and the post-apocalyptic, dystopian world, is extremely dystopian. Also, there was actually one surprise that I did not see coming. The rest of the plot twists were pretty easy to predict, but the one at the beginning actually shocked me. There is a lot going on, plot-wise, in Once, and apparently that leaves no room for character development. Also, the pacing was off, and the plot felt forced at times. Overall, I wasn't blown away by this sequel.
Didn't mind the fact that Eve was selfish and gullible in the first book? Well, then, you'll like her just fine in this one. She has not grown one bit, and she doesn't grow over the course of this novel either. She still trusts everyone, even though anyone should know by now not to. Also, she still cares more about herself than anyone else. I figured she'd grow out of that in this book, and that's why I gave the series another chance. However, she did not. Therefore, even though Once ended with ANOTHER cliffhanger (I'll go into my irritation with the author's plot devices a bit later), I more than likely won't read the finale of this trilogy. It's hard for me to care what's happening when I want to bash the main character's face in. Additionally, Caleb apparently grew stupid since Eve. He throws caution to the wind in this novel, and I wanted to smack him. The King was about the only interesting character, and he, at least, did not make me want to resort to violence.
The pacing of this book felt rushed. Not enough time was spent on any one thing for the reader to fully grasp and feel what was happening. Also, a lot of what the characters did made no sense, leading me to believe that Carey had written herself into a bit of a corner and had to use her characters as plot devices. Oh, and speaking of plot devices, Carey uses the biggest one of all... AGAIN... this book ALSO ends on a cliffhanger. I despise cliffhangers. There are ways of resolving some issues and leaving others open that do not anger me, but when nothing is answered at the end of the book, I feel like I wasted hours of my life that I'll never get back. I know, that's a bit dramatic considering it's just a book, but that's how I feel, nonetheless.
Now, onto the good stuff. I like to put the good stuff at the end so that people remember it better. It makes sense in my mind. Anyway, as I stated, the world-building is fantastic. I could literally picture City of Sand. Every time Eve moved locations, I could see the location in my mind as if I were there. That is good writing, in my opinion. Also, the first plot twist is a doozy. It's rare that an author shocks me, but Carey managed to. So for that, I applaud her.
Overall, this book was completely different than I expected in some ways, and exactly what I expected in others. As I said earlier in the review, if you loved Eve, then you'll adore Once because it's a bit better than the first installment. If you didn't like Eve, then I'd skip this one because it's similar enough that you won't like it either. If you haven't tried Eve yet, I recommend checking it out from your library. This world is a bit different than the other dystopian worlds out there, and people who love dystopian more than anything are likely to fall in love with the world Carey has created.
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