In One Line: One girl struggles for freedom from life under a restrictive dome.
We first meet Neva at the Dark Party of the title - it’s where rebellious youths get together and maybe get it on (bow chicca wow wow) in complete darkness. This is how rebellious youths get to know each other in this world, because when everybody looks kinda similar, so similar that many chose to mutilate their bodies to distinguish themselves, it’s only in the dark that someone can discover the Real You. But something bad happens to Neva at this party: instead of getting it on (bow chicca wow wow) with her Actual Boyfriend, she only goes and pulls the bad boy boyfriend of her BFF!!!
Neva’s entire world exists under the Protectosphere, a super-massive dome that cuts society off from whatever is beyond. The people under the Protectosphere are supposedly safe, but it’s apparent things are going wrong. The youth are rebelling, there is so much in-breeding that everyone looks the same, food is running out, and most significantly, people are going missing. Anyone who dares rebel, or show any remote sign of being unpatriotic, is quickly shuffled away, never to be seen again. Neva writes all their names down in a book secreted to her by her Awesome Grandma. She is desperate to know what has happened to these people. The truth will destroy her entire world.
If you love girls in red party frocks, and pick this book up thinking “Yo, there is going to be some heavy-going winter debutante ball action happening in here!” then you will sorely disappointed. This may be possibly the most bizarre and random cover for a book I’ve ever seen. It actually makes NO SENSE. There is a lot of snowflake symbolism in the book, so I appreciated the tiny silver flecks (you can’t see them in the photo), but otherwise I was mostly like “what the hell?” and “did the cover designers read the book AT ALL?”. I’m particularly disappointed with this cover because there is SO MUCH to go on in this book: snowflakes, domes and young people groping in the dark - why not go for one of those things?! Putting all this stuff to one side, it is a pretty cover. Unfortunately just not a relevant one.
Why You’ll Love This Book
- Dark Parties. DARK PARTIES. As a grown up reading this book, I read the opening dark party scene as basically being an excuse for an orgy. In the dark. I’m not complaining about this. Not one bit. These particular teens aren’t necessarily into the sexy-times, but my goodness is this an opening to a novel!
- I want Sanna to be my best friend. That would be a-maz-ing. Her voice is particularly distinctive, and she has all of the issues and all of the angst. I read quite a bit into Sanna - I saw her as this hot mess of a tortured soul. But I loved her. She felt real. And it was probably down to her that I ended up hating on Braydon, because I knew how cut up she would be when she found out about Braydon and Neva’s face eating in the dark.
- This book is on the risqué side of teen - and me likey! Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil any of the twists for you, but rest assured there are some truly jaw-dropping shockers going on here.
- Braydon’s masks. Didn’t like the boy, but what the boy does with his hands is HOT. He makes all these arty masks, which is a metaphor for the fact that everybody looks the same in this world, but is really different underneath.
- This book has acres of potential, and my imagination was having a riot. There are so many ways to go, so many elements of the world in this novel that I want to explore - and then once you’ve explored the Protectosphere, there’s also presumably an outside to go explore too! I’m really looking forward to future novels in this series, and hopefully more boundary pushing.
- Sara Grant’s brain would be a fascinating place to go on holiday. There is a lot going on there. It would be like going to one of those theme park resorts with added waterslides. She has ideas and she knows how to use them! I also like to imagine that she has a really dirty laugh.
Why You May Not Love This Book:
- There is lots of BIG LANGUAGE going on in this book. I don’t mean big vocabulary wise, but big in terms of melodrama. Our narrator is a little fond of making things sound epic. I know that her world is falling apart, and she’s a trapped soul desperate for control over her life, but even so, sometimes I just wanted to go: Calm Down Dear.
- Girl, get yourself off of that Braydon bloke (who you know NOTHING about) and get yourself back into the arms of that lovely Ethan boy, who is clearly desperately in love with you and who you’ve been with for years and years. I felt so sorry for Ethan. He kinda gets his heart trampled over (multiple times, on purpose) by Neva. Also, while we’re on the topic Neva, whilst that red-booted Braydon guy has been leading you on, he hasn’t broken up with your best friend. If he’s so into you, and if he was a nice guy, he wouldn’t promise your best friend marriage and babies. Braydon’s inability to act just made him a tad douchey for me. I didn’t fancy him. And I’m still not sure if I was meant to.
- The title says Dark Parties. PARTIES - plural. I counted only one Dark Party. And I wanted MORE!!!
- For me, dystopian fiction has to do something important. It should satire something, or protest something, or at least make you realise that your own real life has a dark and cynical underbelly. Neva’s world totally sucks, but I found it hard to link her life to my own. Essentially I just wasn’t entirely sure what the writer wanted to say. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I’m trying to look too deep into this. But having finished the book, and really liking it, I’m still finding that I have this aching need for it to be something more. It’s a something that I can’t put my finger on necessarily, but unfortunately it stops this book from transcending to the upper levels of Awesome Teen Fiction.
The Hypersomnia Test:
It didn’t pass. Most of that was my fault though, because I have been particularly tired this past week and I didn’t even attempt to try letting this book keep me awake. As soon as I sat on the tube train on my way to work, I was halfway to the land of nod. But I am seeing my neurologist on Wednesday, so hopefully he can give me a tiny clue as to why I need so much sleep.
I really liked this book, I was really gunning for it, but it just stopped a tiny bit short of being incredible. Saying that, I think that there is a great opportunity for Sara Grant to up her game in the sequels, and she has definitely made her mark as a writer to watch!
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Buy your copy of Dark Parties by Sara Grant HERE!!!