Series: Aberrant, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Choppy
Hello, everyone! What's this? It feels like Saturday. I am not usually a Saturday poster, so this review might smell a little funny but I promise it's nothing bad, just a delayed review because of my crazy schedule. Anyway, I read Aberrant as part of a book tour, and the review for the sequel, Moirai, will be up next week, so make sure to check that out as well!
This book had been on my to-read shelf on Goodreads for quite a while, because judging from the description, it sounded pretty interesting. I tried really hard to like this book, but I feel like it fell flat from what it could have been. While there were definitely parts of the book I enjoyed, it pained me to see so much wasted potential in Ruth Silver's writing. If she would have taken more time to polish the book up and make it longer, instead of rushing everything, or if she had even just fleshed out characters a bit more, this would have been an enjoyable read.
Sadly, I found it feeling very mechanical as I was reading it. Instead of showing the way this dystopian society was set up, the narrator, 18 year old Olivia Parker, just tells us everything page by page. Every few paragraphs there is a chunk of text explaining government procedures and how things work. There is way too much telling and not enough showing. It would have been much better if she had integrated these explanations in ways that advanced the plot of explored the characters, but they seemed to just have been tossed in there to show what kind of society Olivia lived in.
"Everyone in our stature received the same goods, and it was considered fair and right. No one questioned such authority. No one had need or reason to. The government seemed to know what was best for the people. I'm not sure I always agreed by their means, but people in our city had homes and food. No one starved if they followed the rules. It was meant to be fair."There are so many parts of the book like this, just mentioning the ways of the government, thrown into the text like that.
Another issue I had with the book is that the characters weren't really developed that well and the plot moved extremely fast. One page Olivia is getting married. The next she is arrested. The next she is part of a rebel alliance. It was all fast-paced, and while I usually appreciate that, I thought it hindered the development of the characters. I know that Joshua is kind and Olivia has a good heart but not much else. Also, the fact that the plot moved very fast just made certain things illogical. For example, Silver writes:
"I knew I should be happy, but all I could feel was nauseated. I swallowed the bile rising in my throat. I felt as though I'd been tossed on a ship in the middle of a hurricane, swaying violently from side-to-side. On one side is Governor Craynor and the other is the husband I'm forced to marry."We don't get an explanation as to why she doesn't like the idea of the marriage ceremony. She has grown up in a secluded, government-run area, where people don't know what elevators are, or what kissing is, or many things considered normal in society today. They have been so programmed to feel the government's way of life is the best one. So why does Olivia get nauseous about the marriage ceremony? There isn't anything written about how she's always questioning authority or how she feels like she's different. She was, her whole life, someone who thought the way of life was ideal, and then all of a sudden she's having doubts. If the story was fleshed out more, details like this would make more sense.
While there were apparent flaws, there were also parts of the book I really did like. I liked how she kept the plot interesting enough to make me want to keep reading. Even though she didn't do the best job in telling the story -- it felt more like a sequence of events than a novel -- I found myself wanting to know why she was arrested and who her father was and what exactly the government was up to. I just wanted to find out what exactly was going on and why Olivia was in the center of it. I thought the plot, although it did need work in quite a few areas, was generally very original.
I also really appreciated Ruth Silver's writing itself. Even though the book itself isn't one of my favorites, I could see throughout the story that Silver is very good at articulating words and creating thoughts. Her writing skills themselves are very honed, but she needs to combine them with better story telling skills to write a better novel.
Overall, this novel felt like a first draft rather than a final copy. It's not awful and I can see how it might be good in the future, but as of now, it falls short. Nevertheless. I intend to start Moirai as soon as possible, and I sincerely hope Aberrant set up what was needed for the next book, so it can focus on plot rather than how the system works.
How much say should the government have in the lives of its citizens?
Let us know in the comments!