Wednesday, July 7, 2010

THE ROAR is nothing to shout about

Sometimes I wonder if I have become too picky. The last YA novel I read entitled THE ROAR by Emma Clayton has almost 400 reviews on "Goodreads" with an average rating of 3.95 out of 5. That is above average right? To me, however, it was anything but average. In fact, it was downright disapointing. Yikes! I said it. Now let me tell you why. First, here's the plot:

Two twins, Mika and Ellie, live with the rest of civilization behind a solid concrete wall built to keep out all animals that are infected with some sort of plague. A year before the book begins, Ellie disappears and is presumed dead by everyone except her brother. Society is split into several classes (the rich and the poor), with the lower class becoming more and more frustrated with their lot in life. The government begins a program called "The Youth Development Program" which, unknown to the population but obvious to anyone reading the book, is a covert attempt to train children to become soldiers. Basically, this book is 400 pages of back story to what I assume in book two will be the actual war.

I thought the premise sounded interesting. So what went wrong? I found five things in particular:

#1 - This is a dystopian novel, but that doesn't mean that every adult is completely stupid. So many things were simply unbelievable or blatantly obvious.

#2 - World building gone astray. The author did a good job creating some unique aspects to her futuristic world (like most food was made out of flavored mold), but then she didn't stick to her own rules. Very frustrating.

#3 - Metaphors. In a world where no one has seen any sort of animal, grass, tree, or flower for decades, there were way too many metaphors that dealt with those subjects. How would someone who has never seen or touched an animal before know that carpet felt like cat hair?

#4 - Near the end of the book, the author wrote herself into a corner. She fixes it by all of a sudden making her two main characters telepathic. What the heck? If she'd mentioned that in the beginning she could have deleted the first 200 pages.

#5 - No climax. Building, building, building, building, building and then . . . the book ends.

There you have it. Nit picky or not, this is one book that I wouldn't rush out to buy.

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I'm a mom and author, among other things. I enjoy writing middle grade and young adult books.