Plus One by Elizabeth Fama Review

Monday, June 2, 2014

Title: Plus One
Author: Elizabeth Fama (Twitter)
Publisher: FSG BYR
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopians
Pages: 373
Source: Publisher

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.


  1. Too bad this one felt rushed Melissa! It's definitely hard to fully wrap my mind around a dystopian world and it's characters when I'm moved along before I can really grasp the background information and history. I'm glad the story at least had a good foundation though, even if what was built on top of it didn't quite wow you:)

  2. Gahhh i'm sorry to hear that it was a little bit rushed. This premise sounded so intriguing, and I was considering picking it up, but now I'm not so sure. I think it's a unique synopsis, but like you, I'm not sure how separating the entire population into two shifts would help prevent the spread of a disease. Oh well. Lovely review, Melissa!

  3. Hmm...I'm still conflicted about picking this one up. I don't like the fact that it feels too rushed and speeds ahead while the reader is trying to grasp and understand the world but at the same time I'm really curious about the characters. I think I'll have to give this one a trial run and see how it goes. Great review, Melissa!

  4. Great review! I've been seeing a lot of mixed thouoghts about this but still think I will have to pick it up one of these days lol

  5. Wonderful review, Melissa! I was so excited for this book, but unfortunately some negative reviews put me off reading it. I'm still fascinated by the sound of its fascinating world, romance, and especially the lyrical quality to Elizabeth Fama's writing. Hmm. This just might be one of those reads that turns out to be a good fit or not. I'm keeping this one om my tbr list - for that moment when I want something a little different in the dystopian genre. :)

  6. Fascinating but implausible ran through my mind when reading this blurb, too. How in the world does dividing people by hours of the day cure a disease? And why can't they easily shift from one side to the other? Just not thinking this one is for me because I'd be questioning it all the way through. Great review!

  7. I am not really sure about this one now

  8. Hmmm, I've heard quite a few good things about this one, and I'm a big fan of dystopias, so I'll probably be checking it out. But after reading your review I know I won't be running out for it, instead will be keeping an eye open for it when there's a price drop for it next!
    Great review, Melissa!

  9. This sounds like an interesting book, but the world doesn't seem quite put together enough to interest me. If I want some light reading, I might just pick this up though for the concept. Fantastic review, Melissa!


  10. I've had a copy of this novel for months now and haven't managed to bring myself to read it. It's partially due to dystopian fatigue, I think, but I'm also worried that I won't enjoy it as much as so many others have. In a way, reading your review felt reassuring to me. I appreciate you pointing out all that worked and didn't for you, so that I can better prepare myself for this.

    And as for the focus on characterization over plot? That's something I almost never have an issue with. :)
    Lovely review, Melissa! And I hope your next read by Fama is a little more your style.

  11. I have always felt to lost when I was reading Plus One. I couldn't understand why there was even discrimination, it was really annoying so mostly I didn't enjoy my time reading this book anymore because of the poorly written world-building. I'm glad you liked it enough, though.


  12. Keertana had an interesting interview with this author that really helped put things in perspective as far as the falling in love quickly, the rushed relationship. I haven't read this one, but I do agree the author has a way with words. I am up in the air about this one. I felt a little let down by her first novel and I'm just not sure about this one. Still thinking about it.....

  13. I definitely felt as though parts of this story were rushed, but I feel as if that may have been necessary for the pace and themes of the novel; conveying a sense of urgency and injustice in this society. I do see where you're coming from, though, but I hope your next Fama experience is far better, Melissa!


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