The blurb says that Never Let Me Go meets The Giver in Jennie Melamed’s dystopian debut drama (nice little bit of alliteration lol) about a cult that lives on an isolated island. But, I haven’t read Never Let Me Go…yet, so I don’t know if that’s an apt comparison but, to me it’s a good pairing of the book The Giver mixed with aspects off Running Out of Time (the book the movie The Village is based on and my newest **MUST READ**) mixed with aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale. Years ago, before the entire country was incinerated, ten men and their families managed to escape and settled on an island off the coast. They formed an uncompromising society based on worship of their ancestors, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers, ten male descendants of the original families, are allowed to leave the island and cross over to the wasteland, where they’ll scavenge for useful remnants and scraps among the still-smoldering fires. The Daughters on the island are “wives-in-training”, which is every bit as ominous as it sounds. At the first sign of puberty, they know that the next summer will be their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that takes them from being young girls to being wives. They’ll have children who will have children, and when they’re no longer useful to their community and family, they take their final draught and die alongside their husbands. But, in the summer, the children who aren’t experiencing their Summer of Fruition are having the time of their lives. It’s a tradition that the children have free reign in the summer, with all of the adults living indoors and the children living wildly outside: fighting over food that the adults leave outside for them and building (and fighting over) shelters. At the end of one of their carefree summers, Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrific, something so completely contradictory to the laws that they’re supposed to live by that she knows that she has no other choice but to tell the others. Born leader, Janey Solomon, steps up, determined to find out the truth. If anyone can find the truth, it will be Janey. At seventeen years old, she’s the oldest of the children, because she’s so averse to becoming a woman that she’s slowly starving herself to death. After hearing what Caitlin saw, Janey tried urgently to untangle the knot of lies that they’ve been told their entire lives, and get to the truth about the island and what lies beyond, before she dies. She and her sister, Mary, try to lead the other girls in an insurgence against the adults that very well may be their undoing.
Honestly, this book was a bit difficult to review. It’s so incredibly well written so, if this is Jennie Melamed ‘s first attempt, we need to keep an eye out for future books because they’re bound to be epically amazing! This book was heartbreaking and exhilarating, joyous and infuriating, and an immeasurable amount of emotions, all combined through various periods in the story. Melamed has an incredible talent for description and for plot development. She can make you feel as if you’ve been dropped right into the middle of the action (invisibly, of course, so as to keep anyone from knowing you’re there, hehe). I definitely had a picture of the island in my mind as it changed from sum, with its groups of wild children running everywhere like they’re the Lost Boys in Peter Pan and in fall with the same children, now scrubbed clean and back home, walking back and forth to school. And as good as the author was at desciptions and story telling, she was even better at character development. There were no flat , single dimensional characters here, no way, no how. Every single character all the way to the youngest child that was mentioned had a dynamic personality. Every single one of them learned and adapted, and the ones who were too stubborn to understand why change was necessary really argued their case, it wasn’t just so they could be contemptuous. The reason that this book was so difficult for me to review is some of the themes it covers. It really makes you think and I’m not saying it’s intense. I dearly hope that Melamed has plans to continue writing because she’s incredibly talented and I really hope that you have plans to read this book because you’re going to be glad that you did. I, also really hope that there will be a sequel because I NEED to know what happens to them next!!!