Author: Sara Grant (Twitter)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: July 9, 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Seventeen-year-old Icie's parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie's only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what's happening in the outside world or who has survived. And are they safe in the bunker after all?Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie's secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they're ruled by a teenager...and they have surprising ties to Icie.
Icie lives in a world that's confined to the hidden, underground shelter of a bunker, simply to stay alive. Icie and her unlikely group of friends struggle to survive in this shelter that's devoid of news of the outside world, and, hundreds of years in the future, Beckett's life races through a series of unfathomable events as he tries to understand the mysteries of the very mountain in which Icie and her friends hid so many years ago. These two teens live generations apart, but there is an inexplicable link that will eventually, ultimately be realized.
Half Lives presents a unique opportunity for readers, as well as a bit of a challenge, which is often lacking in the YA genre. Sara Grant has created an intriguing premise for two decidedly different storylines unravel and unfold, all the while winding back into a single connection, which brings the story full-circle. With clever and articulate details, a heroine with whom readers can relate and a surprising new twist on the dystopian genre, Half Lives promises readers two very different and exciting journeys.
There was a lot going on in Half Lives, and I'll be completely honest and say that not all of it worked for me. I'll start, however, with what really did succeed. Icie's storyline was brilliant. Written in first-person perspective, I was offered a unique twist into accessing a teen protagonist's mind. I was worried that viewing the world and events from Icie's eyes would limit my investment in her storyline, or would keep me from understand the secondary characters Chaske, Marissa and Tate, but I was surprised to find that I had more investment in their arcs because of this viewpoint. On the other hand though, Beckett's side of the story was written in third-person perspective, which usually really succeeds for me, but I felt as though his own storyline felt shallow and difficult to follow. Perhaps it was the vernacular, or the chants and prayers, but I felt like I couldn't really get into his side of the novel. I will say that it was a clever and appropriate differentiation between Icie and Beckett's journeys, but I almost feel like Half Lives could have succeeded far better if the first book was written from Icie's POV, while the second followed Beckett's journey. That said, there were aspects of Beckett's future generation that I did enjoy. I think it was really unique and fun that the place in which they lived was called "Forreal." I enjoyed some of the tense revelations, which often led me down the wrong path and surprised me. Unfortunately though, a lot of the depth I wanted from Beckett's end was lost, and secondary characters became mere stereotypes, while the gripping drama of Icie's storyline slowly slipped away and got lost.
In the end, I'm honestly not sure how I feel about Half Lives. I give the author a ton of credit for tackling a lot with this novel and really challenging her creative bounds. I'm just not sure how well some of the story will resonate with readers, as it left me wanting a bit more at times. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy dystopian and split perspectives.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.