Thursday, August 23, 2012
Neva Adams lives under the Protectosphere. The government tells the inhabitants that there is nothing outside of it, that they are lucky to live there, and that they need protection from the outside world. Throughout Neva's life, people have suddenly gone missing and people around her adapt to the change, not acknowledging that a person is really gone. She and her friends decide to protest and show people that the Protectosphere is harmful with the shortages of just about everything from clothes to technology that hasn't been updated since the sphere was created. Their anti-sphere graffiti makes a huge splash and puts them under the scrutiny of the government. It just makes Neva more determined to find proof of all the lies and find out what really happened to the missing people. Will she and her friends escape the authorities and find the information they are after?
Dark Parties has been on my reading radar for a while and I finally picked it up on impulse at the library. It's a quick read and I liked the world for the most part. The Protectosphere, which is the most obvious and lame name ever, supposedly protects the people within from the dangers of the outside world. The government erases parts of their history and people from their society. They choose everyone's careers and allocates them to the most useful sectors, cutting out the arts entirely. To manipulate its citizens, the government purposely makes certain items scarce, such as birth control to encourage pregnancy to expand their numbers. There are all the trappings for a great dystopia are here. What confused me was the lack of new technology and inability to sustain the old technologies. It would improve the inhabitants quality of life and lure them into a false sense of security in addition to allowing the state to successfully spy on the people. Most of their cameras didn't even work and they relied on the presence of them to be intimidating. The lack of basic things like clothes just makes it seem that goods can't be produced almost at all to sustain the people under the dome. Maybe if people were happier and their needs better met, the state wouldn't have to make so many people disappear.
The characters frustrated me for the most part. Neva wasn't the best heroine. She had guts and nerve, but would do the dumbest things. She criticized her best friend for falling for a guy she barely knows and then does exactly the same thing with the same guy! She also seemed to take a lot of things at face value for someone trying to sift out the truth and lies from the world around her. The most annoying thing about her was that she was more concerned about the drama with a boy and her best friend than with the bigger picture where she could possibly die for her rebellion. Her best friend Sanna is a girl that will change herself and her convictions to please a boy. The boy in question, Braydon, is basically a cardboard cut out of a person with red cowboy boots like Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother: no character development, no real personality, and no development of any relationship with him. I would have loved this book at least 80% more without this useless, annoying romance and half-assed love triangle/square.
Dark Parties wasn't horrible, but I wouldn't call it good either. The dystopia kept my interest and was my favorite part, even if some if it seemed counterintuitive. The characters were mostly annoying and the romance distracted from the overall plot. I'm not sure if this is a series, but there has to be something exceptionally compelling in the blurb for the sequel to get me to read it.
My rating: 2.5/5 fishmuffins
Read as part of Dystopian August at Presenting Lenore.