Today, I'm reviewing Sophie Jordan's Uninvited for Supernatural Saturday. This is a book that I loved not just for its story, but for the thought-provoking questions that it brought up.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2014 by HarperTeen
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.
The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.
In Uninvited, Sophie Jordan has college-bound Davina "Davy" Hamilton face off against one of the most formidable opponents possible: the US government.
With violent crime on the rise across the nation, the government has begin testing citizens for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS) a.k.a the kill gene. Davy initially believes that her diagnosis as a gene carrier is a mistake, until she has everything and everyone important from her life systematically stripped from her.
Jordan's depictions of Davy's struggles to come to terms with her new normal, against an unyielding, increasingly difficult government, makes this book an absolute must-read for the new year.
Things that worked:
Jordan does a fantastic job of charting Davy's growth from a sheltered honors student with the usual prejudices against the perceived violent tendencies of HTS carriers, to someone who's willing to accept the fact that a label doesn't always encompass the full person.
Davy is especially relatable as she learns how to stand up for herself, both against the friends and family who've turned their backs on her and in newer, tougher environments. Jordan does a brilliant job of making it clear that outside of music, nothing necessarily comes easy to Davy, and she needs to seriously push herself beyond her limits in order to survive. Davy is definitelynot Katniss, but her struggles make her all the more relatable.
As for the secondary characters, Gil and Davy's brother especially shine through. Gil's gentle soul and talent for computer coding and hacking, will make readers question just how the concept of genius can be skewed by people with an agenda. Davy's brother just gets bonus points for being a fierce, loyal sibling - something that YA needs more of.
* The plotting/pacing
Readers are thrown into the action almost immediately. There's only a glimpse of what Davy's life is like pre-diagnosis, before her world is unavoidably changed forever. The abruptness of the change really reinforces just how out-of-control Davy's life has become, and readers will likely empathize completely with that whiplash feeling.
Jordan also makes the brilliant decision to intersperse Davy's life with glimpses of what's going on for HTS carriers across the nation, through a combination of interviews, reports and news alerts. The pairing of both the micro of Davy's life and the macro seriously amps up the stakes for readers, and for Davy herself.
* World-building/the details
Jordan does a fantastic job of incorporating small and large-scale details of an HTS-obsessed society. Even inconsequential details build onto the bigger story, to the point where I felt like Jordan was literally anticipating my every need as a reader - and that's not something that happens often.
* The science
I've seem some criticism of the viability of the HTS science, but I personally felt that it was incredibly well-thought out, especially when put into the context of the mob mentality and the nurture vs. nature theory.
Without giving any spoilers away, Jordan's science is incredibly plausible and I could easily see something like this playing out in real life.
* The headier issues
Simply put, Uninvited is a book that packs a lot of serious issues into its brief 384 pages. Jordan tackles everything from discrimination, to free will and the power of group think.
I think that educators, parents and readers will have a lot to discuss about the book, with questions ranging on the value of free will, to how group think can cause destruction on unbelievable skills. There's plenty of opportunity to connect this to real-world scenarios. .
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
I felt like the romance fell too much into that bad guy-meets-good girl-and-wants-to-save-her stereotype that you see so often in YA, and as Krista of Rwanda Files says, this will likely become a make or break issue for some readers.
I personally thought that Davy's dependence on her burgeoning relationship with Sean was a little excessive, but I'm hopeful that Davy will also come into her own over the course of the next couple of books.
I highly recommend this book for fans of 1984, Animal Farm, andReboot. I also recommend this book for fans of YA fiction that enjoy books that will encourage them to think critically about some of the more complicated societal issues of today.
Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of Uninvited from HarperCollins via Edelweiss. Thank you!
About the author:
A brief stint in law school taught her that case law was not nearly as interesting as literature - teaching English seemed the natural recourse. After several years teaching high school students to love Antigone, Sophie resigned with the birth of her first child and decided it was time to pursue the long-held dream of writing.