Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Release Date: January 28th, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
All her life, eighteen-year-old Bea has wanted nothing more than to become a sniper on the wall and earn the coveted ink of a Dread warrior - a mark of distinction among her people.
She knows that one day the terrifying Erebii might break through the city's outer defences, and if her people aren't prepared and the wall is breached then the last human city will fall.
But everything Bea thinks she knows is about to be challenged...
What does the ink really do as it flows underneath their skin and who is the mysterious Unwanted boy that keeps appearing in her life?
It was only a couple of years ago when the dystopian trend was in full swing. We got some good books out of it, but we also got some carbon copies. A scaffolding arose and it started to feel like every book was the same. There’d be a main character who would lead a rebellion against a bad government in a post apocalyptic/experiment world where the general populace was broken up into classes. UNWANTED is another YA dystopian, but I’m glad to say it doesn’t follow the generic mould too closely! Also it’s by an Australian author, has basically no romance, and is a standalone (at least, I think it’s a standalone. Book Depository seems to think otherwise)
UNWANTED follows Bea, a girl training to be a sniper. Not that she gets to do much shooting in this. Aside from the first chapter she doesn’t get much combat time. Most of the novel is spent following Bea, and sometimes one or two other characters, as she uncovers the truth behind the city she lives in and does her best to save various members of her family from the bad situations they end up in. She doesn’t even properly join the rebellion, she’s more blackmailed into it.
The world of UNWANTED is quite interesting. There is the standard city surrounded by a wall, but that’s not the cool part. What I loved was the whole ink thing. Tattoos/ink play a major role in this world. All adults have one once they graduate from stalk school or dread (army) school, and the amount and type of ink you have signifies your rank and role in the system. And it’s not just a tattoo, it’s ink that moves and helps express things such as emotions which leads me to my next point: showing vs telling.
The thing I enjoyed most about UNWANTED was how Holohan built the world. You know how we always ask for more showing not telling? Well Holohan’s mastered that technique. It was very rare that we’d get an info dump unless one character was explaining something directly to another. Most of the time she’d build the world by describing the surroundings and character’s actions. I should have marked a page to quote as an example. One way I can explain this was when Holohan described the appearance of a billboard advert to show how the government was actively encouraging girls to become Stalks (surrogate mothers for embryos provided by the council). She describe the cheery background, the happy model, the slogan but never outright stated that the girls were coerced into the career. The writing really was great. Unfortunately some other parts of the novel have me feeling meh about it, as much as I enjoyed it.
Overall the plot of UNWANTED didn’t have much action. There was a bit at the start and the end (which was more brutal on the characters than I was expecting and didn’t last long enough) and the occassional close call as Bea went around helping rescue people. Other than that there wasn’t much. And I’m okay with that because the world was what I was more interested in anyway, plus it took me in a direction I wasn’t entirely expecting. Even though the society has a dystopian sounding set up, there’s a sci fi element to it: the Erebii. These creatures and their technology were so interesting, would have loved for them to be fleshed out more.
My only real complaint aside from the lack of action when it comes to the UNWANTED are that I would have liked more character development. I never really grew emotionally attached and if I had, I think I may have cried at the ending because there were some surprise deaths then. It doesn’t help that the book is only short. It also would have been nice to see a bit more of the action at the end and maybe an epilogue just so we could see what happened to the characters because it ends almost mid scene.
UNWANTED is a dystopian novel I think a lot of people have been asking for: a standalone dystopian with basically no romance. The world was very interesting and superbly developed. I loved the way the author wove the history and world building into the descriptions and didn’t rely on info dumps, instead showing us how the world worked. The plot also surprised me, taking itself in a direction I wasn’t really expecting. Ultimately the only reason this didn’t get a really high rating from me was because I would have liked a bit more action and I never really formed an emotional attachment to the characters.
P.S. Sorry for another crappy/boring review. I wrote this when I was in a reviewing slump and the words just wouldn’t flow :/