With my journey to New York City mostly complete, I had plenty of time to read books while I was on my way up. The first day was a wonderful (ha!) 12 hours drive, and the second day consisted of a much shorter 3 hours drive. I was able to catch up on most of my ARC books that I’ve had lying around, so expect a few updates this week.
The last one I finished is the first one I’m reviewing. It is called Chained, the first book of the Cage of Lies series by Susanne Valenti. I am not 100% sure how I first started following Susanne, but I have been for awhile. She’s a pretty amazing author, and you should definitely go purchase her first two books: Chained and Linked. Links are for the Kindle additions, which will cost you $6 total. Susanne posted about advanced copies of her books, and I was one of the lucky ones to take her up on it! I just bought her second book on Amazon (TOTALLY didn’t know it was out, and now I’ve started another book. Alas!)
I started Chained the second morning of our drive. It was a refreshing change over the other two books I read in the car, both of which I found weird. I was expecting my whole ARC experience to be weird and didn’t have my hopes set too high on this book. I was pleasantly surprised.
I feel that I should state upfront that this book is a YA Dystopian book, and if you aren’t a fan of that genre, this isn’t going to be a book for you. There are some minor spoilers below, but nothing too major. So without further ado….
Chained by Susanne Valenti
Published October 2015
Part of the Cage of Lies series
Maya, an intelligent teenage orphan trying to find her place in the new world population behind The Wall. After overpopulation and humans abusing the Earth, they accidentally created something that allowed the Earth to fight back. Fearing extinction, they hid in cities behind walls and burrowing into the ground. Hundreds of years later, the population is just beginning to be able to explore the wasteland around their cities to see if there is a possibility of expanding.
Maya has always held a fascination in the Old Ways. Cars, green trees and water have a strange hold on her, while the constant grayness and surveillance of Harbour City drive her nuts. When her only friend Taylor suggests that she join the group going to explore the outside to see if it is contaminated, she immediately jumps at the opportunity.
Unfortunately, this opportunity leads to accidental contamination, causing Maya and Taylor to be punished and sent to SubWars as messengers for 3 months. Maya’s life is never the same after that.
Things I Liked:
Susanne, you’ve got a way with descriptions. I could feel the forest around me, especially in juxtaposition to the city and the potential “contamination” site. I love the slight guilt feeling I got about the huge house that only fit 4 people (as I move into my tiny NY apartment!)
I actually like Maya for the most part, though she seems too stubborn at times and needs to be saved too often. I had to remind myself occasionally that she had lived in the City, not learning how to fight. My favorite characters are definitely Alicia, Kaloo and Laurie— I love badass girls that don’t need a boy to save them I guess. Coal and Taylor were fine — I really don’t care for Taylor yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he grows.
The thing with convincing dystopians lies in how civilization fell. It’s got to be convincing — you’ve got to make me feel like this could start happening at any moment. Chained successfully gives a terrifying possibility. M. Night Shyamalan should have used this for his really terrible movie The Happening. I can imagine that Earth will fight back against us one day, especially if we accidentally give them the tools to do so.
Things I Didn’t Like:
There are parts of the book that had me confused from the beginning. Did Maya witness her parents’ death? Why was she near the labs then? Taylor and Laurie seem pretty open to leaving the city too — I’ve never read a book where everyone in a breakout of some sort seems okay. I’m also weary of the potential love triangle that’s been set up by the book — I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will resolve quickly. (Seriously — my main love for the Divergent series is that there wasn’t a love triangle).
Everyone seems a bit even keel most of the time. No one really fights, no one stops to ask why they’re so willing to help out these strangers. And I wish there were more backstories to the characters. Maybe not backstory — maybe depth is the word I’m looking for?
And while I really liked the idea of SubWars, I clearly didn’t understand what they were at first. So when Maya, Evan and Taylor end up in the SubWars fighting for their lives, I seriously got confused. I think I just need a visual map of the SubWars’ layout to help me?
If you like Dystopians, give this one a go. It’s a quick read and a decent one at that. I definitely would have loved it more if it had been longer with certain aspects more detailed ( i.e. life in the city, the different class systems, the suffocating life, why everyone shuns Maya). I’ll let you know if I’m still enjoying it after I finish the second book!