My Review of Starring Me (Also by Krista McGee)
Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.My Thoughts:
Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.
But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.
She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.
As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.
Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…
As soon as I read about this book, I knew it was the one I was waiting for. No other review books had caught my interest for a while - until Anomaly. I waited anxiously for the date when it was available to request, and then waited for it to come in the mail, and then had to wait until I'd finished my other books first.
It was nothing at all like what I expected.
But at the same time, it was totally, definitely worth it.
This book had great, solid world-building. I liked how it wasn't as far into the future as a lot of dystopians are - it was actually set with a timeline in which I could've been an old lady in this book, rather than long dead. The world of pods and Monitors and Scientists is a bit plain and sterile, but that has its purpose. The entire future world in this book is focused on productivity and logic and purpose, not pleasure or frivolities or leisure. There's no need for colors or diversity, except in the talents and skills of people, since various tasks require different specializations. This world actually reminded me of a much more sterile and scientific version of the world of The Giver (except there actually was color in existence, just not much in use.)
The tone used was rather surprising, and one I haven't seen in dystopians before. There wasn't the bright, cheerful, proud future of mankind seen in a lot of older sci-fi and futuristic books. But there wasn't the bleak, fearful, what-if-this-stuff-happens-oh-dear kind of tone I find in almost any dystopian I pick up today. No, this was the tone of this-world-is-awful-but-God-is-good. There was fear and uncertainty, yes - but overcome with the hope we can find in the Designer of the world. I feel like Krista McGee might have achieved this balance even better than Jill Williamson did in Captives.
However, Anomaly was also more confusing than Captives. I struggled to determine what was truth and lie, what was real and virtual reality (which actually doesn't make sense until much later in the book). Part of that, I think, was a desired effect the author created. After all, a book is supposed to pull you in with the characters, and I was just as confused and frustrated as Thalli. However, a book is also supposed to help you understand what's going on in the story, and there were a few moments when I was a bit lost. Still, it was gripping enough that I finished it in a day or two...
Speaking of characters, these weren't your everyday characters, either. I did like Rhen, Thalli's podmate, although it's hard to connect with people born emotionless. I totally sympathized with Thalli the anomaly. Take one person who's normal by today's standards, raise them in the environment and relationships considered normal in this future world, and you'll pretty much have Thalli. So easy to connect and sympathize with. And let's not forget Berk... Berk, who also thinks and feels for himself, but is allowed to do so because he is going to be a Scientist. Berk, who is caring and so full of emotion and feeling and so smart and protective and loving. Berk, who understands. Oh I am such a goner...
Ahem. Then there's the Scientists. I'm not sure whether these were meant as the kind of villains you understand but don't like, or the villains you just hate and yell at and wish you could punch in the face... repeatedly. But regardless of the reaction Krista intended for her readers, I most definitely fit in the latter group. The stuff with the tests and brain studies is cool, yeah, but it's also completely HEARTLESS AND CRUEL AND what happened to the Scientists' emotions huh? I mean they were born in our world and not genetically engineered and just OI THEY ARE TWISTED.
Now that that's out of my system, I really only have one more point to cover. The ending was just kind of strange. A book has to have a great beginning to hook a reader. It has to have a great middle to keep that interest and the illusions fiction is built on. But it absolutely has to have a great ending if it wants to stay with the reader and make a good impression and last. This goes double - possibly triple - for a book that starts at the end with the MAIN CHARACTER'S DEATH. It makes you wonder how is the author going to work that? It's not really going to end there, is it? Oh but I don't want an epilogue that gives hope and all that even thought the character really dies... Then there's all this stuff that happens during the book and adds even more questions. Pretty much this entire book builds up toward the ending - and I was pleased with it. There are other directions I could see it going just as successfully and I might have liked those better, but what Krista McGee did worked.
Until the epilogue.
I'm still processing that. Mostly my thoughts right now are those should've waited for the next book, after I'd had time to process the last chapter of the book and distance myself from the situation a little.
So, anyway, I really did like this book. I would recommend it. It's a great Christian dystopian. But it's not anything like I expected, in more ways than one. I look forward to the next book and give this one four stars.
I was provided a free copy of this book through BookSneeze in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.