Monday, April 4, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Dark Parties by Sara Grant

Neva has grown up sheltered by the Protectosphere and told by the government that nothing remains outside the Homeland borders but the rubble of an ancient war. Yet, Neva was raised on her grandmother's stories of life on the outside, planting a seed of doubt that slowly grows into full-blown rebellion. As Neva discovers each new devastating truth, she begins to realize that sometimes it's safer not knowing -- and once she takes the final plunge, there will be no turning back.

Sara Grant dives straight into the arresting madness that is the Dark Parties future. The novel opens with Neva and Sanna beginning their insurrection by throwing a Dark Party, and Grant expertly taps into readers' other senses by immersing them in the utter blackness alongside Neva. After this startling opening, Dark Parties continues to unsettle with its timeliness: the language of patriotism, Homeland, and Terror weaves into the very foundation of this world.

It is impossible not to cheer for Neva as she begins her fight for freedom, a fight which grows in urgency as the horrifying truths of the Homeland are revealed. It is a relief to see a heroine who is leading the revolution rather than being prodded along by those around her. The reader's strong sympathy with Neva makes the emotional highs and lows of the novel even more gut-wrenching -- the intensity of several moments actually gave me goosebumps.

However, Neva's relationships could be more elaborated. This aspect seems too often neglected amid the world-building in dystopian novels. At times, it was hard to see the ties that bound Neva to those around her (especially her love interest). Yet, the relationship between Neva and her grandmother was one of the most nuanced aspects of the story. Their bond is brought to life and transcends the obstacles that lie between them -- no mean feat when her grandmother is one of The Missing.

The ultimate reality at the heart of this society is unfathomable, and its portrayal is unflinching, forcing the reader to feel the urgency and injustice to their very core. The final pages are maelstrom of shocking twists that will leave readers alternately gasping in disbelief and surging with hope. Thankfully, the ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel to this gripping debut -- I'm not ready to leave Neva and her fight for life and liberty behind.


Disclosure: I borrowed an ARC of this novel from Lauren at 365 Days of Reading for the Cornucopia of Dystopia event.

This novel hits shelves August 3, 2011. Preorder Dark Parties by Sara Grant.

Part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.


Sniffly Kitty said...

OOh I hadn't heard of this dystopian before. An insurrection party as the beginning definitely sounds intriguing ^.^

lisa (the nerd) said...

in a totally unrelated-to-your-review comment, i thought that said Dark Panties. no lie.

in a related to your review comment, it sounds like the author takes the intense plot and weaves a rockin' story. yes please!

Cari said...

I have never seen this book before! Wow almost 5 stars I'll be sure to look for this one.

The Slowest Bookworm said...

I love dystopian novels and this one sounds excellent. I've just added it to my wish list.

Lauren M said...

Yay, I'm glad you liked it! I really enjoyed Dark Parties, too. I loved how intense it got at certain moments!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Oh wow. Sounds like an amazing read. Thanks! I haven't heard of this one until now.

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

@Sniffly Kitty -- It was definitely a great way to start off with a bang!

@lisa -- I accidentally typed Dark Panties! Thank God I caught it before I posted O_O LOL!

@Cari -- It made a brief appearance on NetGalley and the blogosphere, and then sort of drifted back into the ether. I'm not sure what's going on! But I definitely recommend checking it out! =)

@The Slowest Bookworm -- Yay! I hope you enjoy it!

@Lauren M -- It was definitely intense! Especially toward the end O_O

@Melissa -- I'm glad I could put it on your radar! I'm surprised how few people have heard of this one. I guess August is still far enough away that the buzz hasn't started =)

Thank you all for commenting!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I've been excited for this one for a while now and it's good to know it doesn't disappoint. Dystopians can be difficult to pull off well (evidenced by your issues with the relationships) but Dark Parties seems like it does more than a decent job. Great review!

Mary Feagley said...

I know the author (we went to high school together in Indiana though she now lives in London) and she is working on more books!

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