Series: Polaris, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: adfsasdf
About the book:
In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.
The only price they pay is their free will.
Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.
Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna.
IT'S FROZEN. IT IS. SERIOUSLY. BUT GRUNGIER AND FOR YA. PRAISE POSEIDON. HALLELUJAH.
First of all. Conventional YA Love Culture is wrecked. Remember how we all thought Hans was the next Flynn? (If you haven't watched Frozen, I don't know what you're doing with your life.) Well, in the same respect, the usual love culture is built up and then Ibarra spends the rest of the novel demolishing it. No stupid stupid love triangle. Even though the novel is actually centered around having relationships chosen for you, and the sisters in question are the President's daughters. Lots of room for risque love situations that would appeal to the casual YA reader. However, Ibara takes the wonderful path of emphasizing and empowering the relationship between sisters Ryla and Alanna instead. The Polaris Uprising tells both their stories, side by side. If you took the time to read the description above, you'll notice that Ryla's love is drenched in her sister. Even when she becomes a bit friendly with Tyson, all she ever thinks about is her sister. It's awesome. I love it. I'm excited. Get excited, people.
And therein lies my second favorite part of this novel. The characterization and conflict between Alanna and Ryla is at once emotionally taxing and extremely wonderful. Though I dislike that Alanna simply rolls with it, I can see the intricacy of the social and psychological hold that she feels towards her father.
Most of the characterization is extremely fluid, exemplified by a bit of witty dialogue that reveals parts of Ryla:
"Ryla grinned and looked over at her father. 'I assure you my reputation is much exaggerated.'
'I'm sorry to hear that. He only had good things to say.'
'Well, in that case, it's all true.'"Ryla isn't afraid of her father and in contrast to Alanna, has a much easier time speaking and joking in front of their father, even if it can be slightly restrained. She is portrayed to be brainwashed like her sister Ibarra wastes no time refuting that pretense. The Hunger Games-esque tension that resides in the subtle things that are not allowed and the history (you know, since the war everything is perfect) provide that stark contrast for Ryla. She should fit in with the crowd, she should not care about free will. But she seems to have inclinations otherwise and that's what allows the story to take off.
At other times, the novel is not as fluid . . . for example, it's a bit slow to pick up at the start. Once the information starts to seep through, and the twists start taking the story new places . . . you figure out how horrible and cruel this dystopia is and the novel begins to come together. Unfortunately, since there's so much to tell, there are a few passive passages where the scene is sacrificed for the sake of information. Which, to be fair, I didn't notice because it only bifurcates the transitory scenes. An early example is:
"Growing up, Alanna and Ryla had always been able to do as they pleased in that area . . . Even as a young girl, Alanna could always be counted on to be on her very best behavior. Ryla, on the other hand . . . "This little snippet allows the scene to transition from the banquet thoughts and the President's office. It also follows a bit of dialogue that ends in Ryla's hesitance and mild annoyance at the upcoming banquet.
(I'm on such a good reading streak.)
Another thing about characters (sorry, am I a broken record? characters are so important in this novel damnit): even the secondary characters are influential. Ryla and Alanna may be in the spotlight but that doesn't make everyone else incidental. People live actual lives outside of Ryla's coming of age and Alanna's expositions.
I mean there were scenes but I don't want to spoil the well-constructed plot! I can just say that I was constantly holding my breath and refusing to trust anything. Even the wedding. And the suspects of the assassination. Nothing is real.
Also that cliffhanger. What the actual Hades. I didn't even know how to breathe after, or if I was allowed to breathe.
About the author:
She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.
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