Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dark Parties - Sara Grant

Summary:  Sixteen-year-old Neva keeps a list of The Missing.  She secretly records each one in a tattered journal hidden in her mattress.  Written records are forbidden, but Neva wants to remember each person, each face.  And she will never forget her first entry -- her grandmother.  But where do they go?  There's no way out of the Protectosphere, the shield that separates Homeland form the rest of the world, and the government insists that everything beyond is an unlivable wasteland.  But as Homeland's population and resources dwindling, Neva suspects that the government is lying: about the outside world, about The Missing, about everything.

Neva and her best friend, Sanna, take action and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion.  They begin to uncover horrifying truths, but can they succeed in opening the Protectosphere?  Or will they, too, become part of The Missing?  (Summary from book - Image from www.hatchettebookgroup.com - Book given free for an honest review)

My Review:  Sixteen-year-old Neva is doomed to marry, have children, and die without ever seeing the world outside the Protectosphere -- a giant dome designed to sheild the citizens of Homeland from the danger that lurks beyond its synthetic border.  But supplies are dwindling along with the population, and many people, including Neva’s grandma, have disappeared without explanation.  In an effort to locate others who are equally dissatisfied, Neva and her bestfriend, Sanna, throw an underground rave – a dark party – that yields unexpected results.  Now Neva is consumed with guilt, passion, and more desperate than ever to uncover the truth about the disappearances.  The question is, will Neva survive or will she disappear as well?

I blew through Dark Parties in under two days.  Honestly, I probably would have finished it in a matter of hours if I didn’t have all those pesky grown-up responsibilities that seem to be constantly plaguing me.    I was hooked in a matter of pages and had to force myself to put. the. book. down. around 3AM so that I wasn’t a complete beast in the morning.   Sometimes being responsible is such a burden.

Dark Parties was reminiscent of some of my favorite YA dystopian novels (The Giver, City of Ember, Delirium) but still had a feel that was all its own.  I enjoyed the world that the author created within the Protectosphere and could feel the tension within Homeland as people began to question authority and govermental control  deteriorated.  The author also captured the depth and changeability of teenage emotion in several of the characters.   Neva’s stubborness, curiousity, and otherwise teenage-y angst felt very genuine and I admired her fierce independence, loyalty and determination. 
Initially I was a little worried about this book’s predictability.  I saw the first twist coming a mile away.  In fact, it was so obvious that I’m not even sure it was supposed to be a twist.  I was a little worried that the rest of the book was going to be that transparent until the next twist blindsided me. TKO.  I loved that twist.  I devoured the sizzly tension between Neva and Braydon, but appreciated that she was torn between her feelings for him and loyalty to her best friend.  In the end, I believe the best side of Neva won out.

Overall, this book was engaging, well-paced, and romantic.   It touches on themes of historical bias, privacy rights, xenophobia, globalization, population control, and cultural assimilation, but in such an interesting way that I wasn’t bored out of my skull.  I wasn’t bored at all!  According to her website, Sara Grant is not working on a sequel to Dark Parties, but she has planted a few seeds so that one could be written.  I would definitely read  a sequel, or any other book by this author, and would recommend this book to any fans of dystopian fiction who are looking for light and entertaining read. 

My Rating: 4.25 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  In a society where teens are encouraged to engage in sexual activity for the purpose of population growth, you’d think this book would be full of sex, but it wasn’t.  Because of the rebels refusal to bring a child into a world that has no future, the characters restricted themselves to sexually charged adolescent fumbling.  Everything stayed pretty PG-13, with few details and no profanity or graphic violence.  At one point Neva undergoes a forced pelvic exam.  A little awkward…but isn’t it always?

Sum it up:  Definitely a dark party.  Entertaining, romantic, and a little bit dangerous.  

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