Author: Elizabeth Fama (Twitter)
Publisher: FSG BYR
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopians
Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.
Dystopian novels are often a dime a dozen these days, but I must admit that the concept of Plus One had me going from the very start. Author, Elizabeth Fama, is known for her way with words, spinning stories into this hypnotic, melodic sort of storytelling that leaves you breathless, so I had no reservations at all when I picked up the novel. Offering us an interesting alternate reality, it's the type of novel that asks readers to put their preconceived notions aside and simply dive headfirst into a world that's unfamiliar in it's familiarity. It's a different sort of dystopian novel - one that I believe will either sink or swim for readers.
Plus One presented a unique challenge for me, perhaps because I've read so many dystopian novels in the past couple of years. In 1918, a flu pandemic threatened to destroy the world's population, so the then President divided the populace into two groups - those who would work the medical fields during the day and the laborers who would work at night. I struggled a bit with this premise, understanding exactly how two perfectly symmetrical shifts would help heal the world from a ravaging disease. Furthermore, what started as an equal society working together (though separated) to keep their people alive, melted into a complete persecution and separation in less than 100 years. I found it, while fascinating, a bit implausible.
I started to reconcile with the idea of the day vs. night premise about halfway through Plus One, and I found myself growing attached to Soleil's character. She was rash, and impulsive and fairly unpredictable, but in a novel that felt quite intangible at times, I felt that she was a ray of light. At times, she felt a bit juvenile, and her actions seemed a bit haphazard, but her persona and the relationship between Soleil and D'arcy rang true and honest. I truly believe the relationships were the highlight of the story for me because, whereas much of the plot felt a bit rushed and haphazard, I felt like I always had a grasp on the characters and their motives, at the very least.
I think that in the end, my real qualm with Plus One was simply that it felt a little too rushed. With a novel like this, we're being offered a new world in which we're expected to understand and empathize with the changes to society and its inhabitants. However, there was simply so much going on that it felt as though it moved with a little too much speed, when it could easily have worked just a little slower and more deliberate in its actions. The foundation for the world was there, but unfortunately, the meat simply didn't follow through, and while I loved the characters and longed for more of them, I couldn't help but feel a little slighted at the end.
Overall, Plus One is a complex dystopian that I have extremely mixed feelings on. Ms. Fama remains an incredible writer - one whom I will seek out time and again. Unfortunately, it was also a little unbalanced, and that's where the story lost me a bit. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA and NA, especially those who enjoy dystopian novels that focus heavily on characters over plot.
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.