Sunday, December 1, 2013

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Plus OnePlus One by Elizabeth Fama

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plus One

This makes five in a series of books I’ve read over the last couple of days that’s made reference to someone’s too intimate use of tu over the more usual (and possibly more formal)  use of  vous. Granted the first four books were actually a part of series revolving foodie romances set in France. Perhaps it’s me encountering the very same thing here, that’s got me remarking on it... because really, those four foodie romances are leaps to this particular YA post apoca.. dystopia.. urban fanta.. read… well, whatever this was, it’s got elements of all those things but without any being the main thing in it. I confess I loved almost everything in this (most everything because there were those disconcerting moments of Gigi as Noma and how unexpected almost vulgar the confrontations with her could get.) 

It’s very cleverly fleshed out this alternative path the world would have gone post-Spanish Flu. That little bit of truth and how far Fama’s imagination has taken things allows us a world that’s not totally implausible as a result… but scary still… scary in the same vein as Offred’s world was (Hello, Handmaiden’s Tale.) It’s Night and Day and the why that is that creates a fascinating romp that covers alt history and speculation on what could be…  though ‘lite’ on both aspects, as mostly this is about a girl and the choices she’s to make. Plus there’s a romance that’s based on a connection not wholly unexpected.

Perhaps it’s that last bit that works best; the way most developments in this are ‘not wholly unexpected.’ Fama’s laid the groundwork for everything so that whatever eventually did happen was not that much of a stretch; yet at the same, despite the laying down of things, not once did anything get boring.

The start alone and the description of her day-to-day (night-to-night? heh.) makes it clear that she’s more than poor girl growing up on the wrong side of things. There’s a standard-feel to her at first, sure; but I mean that in the least negative way: she’s standard YA heroine: kick ass and smarter than she let’s on but wait a blink and she’s all heart on sleeve AND fly by seat of. In short: she’s a mess of a lead, but an endearing one because while there’s no perfection to her makes it’s that fact that had me rooting for her even more.

I have to point out the neat way the world is built up; no info-dumping here, instead there’s a clever meshing of personal histories and present realities that paints a vivid picture of a world divided and people with their places. Day on one had; Night on the other… then this third group that doesn’t fit in either of the first completely, Noma. It’s in these distinctions that some of the darker come out. The shocking exchanges shouldn’t have been so shocking but they still were… but those were side events, ‘exclamation points’ even, because mostly the story was of a girl trying to do right by that she loved; then the same girl opening herself up to possibilities unforeseen.

I enjoyed the more personal aspects too. Her and her family and the little dramas she’s working through. Memories of how things were and how different things had become total throat lump moments there; and even the boy... No, I am not going to go into that and spoil it… needless, there’s a sweetness between then that’s incomprehensible at first as in where did this start again, but eventual connections and well, it worked for me. Hell even the call for change and clamoring for their ‘truth’ worked me.

Thank you, Net Galley!

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