Friday, July 25, 2014

ARC Review: The Young World

The Young World by Chris Weitz
The Young World trilogy #1
Expected Publication: July 29th 2014 by Little Brown Books

After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.
*An ARC was provided by Little Brown Books in exchange for an honest review.*

The Young World was all the buzz at BEA this year - everywhere you went there were ads for it, even in the bathrooms! For real though, see for yourselves. Since it's been awhile since I read a really good dystopian, naturally I got really excited about getting my hands on it, and I've been eagerly awaiting cracking this baby open since then.  Sadly, this one didn't end up living up to it's own hype...not for me, at least.

The Young World started out with loads of potential.  There's this virus that annihilated most of the world's population; the adults and the young kids are all gone.  Only teenagers remain but when they turn into adults (around 18 years old or such) they start to get sick, and soon die.  For some reason, the hormones that teens produce made them immune to the sickness, but the second their body stops producing said hormones - a.k.a. when they become adults, they're out of luck.  No adults means that all types of media and technology went down with them, seeing as there are none of them left to run things.  And considering that all the teens have a pretty short life-expectancy; well things have turned bleak pretty quick. You don't fear dying or killing when you know you have little to no time left.

Set in New York City, The Young World focusses on a tribe of teens, led by Jefferson, which is one of the story's narrators.  Jefferson and his friends have made a more or less peaceful existence for themselves in Washington Square. They haven't taken to killing for no reason, the girls living with them are treated as equals, not play-things and they try to keep the peace whenever possible.  The story is told in alternating point of views, switching every chapter from Jefferson to Donna, the main female of the tribe whom Jefferson also happens to have a crush on.  While I had no issues with Jefferson's voice, Donna was something else. In an attempt to make these characters sound like true teenagers, author Chris Weitz (Director of New Moon and The Golden Compass to name a few) gave Donna major teen-speak.  She spoke every sentence like she was asking a question, even when she was stating a fact - like she wasn't even sure herself of whatever the hell she was saying.  And then she inserted 'like' into almost every sentence she spoke OR thought. At first, I figured I would get used to it, but to be honest I never did.  Her chapters annoyed me on a constant basis and I found myself wishing that Jefferson would be the only MC. I mean, it's not like Donna's chapters added that much extra insight anyways.

So this crew has carved out a semi-peaceful existence amidst chaos, until they find a clue that might just lead them to an eventual cure to this sickness and save humanity.  Then they set off on a quest all over New York, where they face one crisis after another. When they first set off, I was all for it.  I loved the idea of exploring New York City, especially now that I've actually been there a few times.  It was fun reading about familiar streets and places and actually recognizing them.  Without getting into any spoilers, the stuff Jefferson and his tribe faced seemed to get more and more ridiculous as the story progressed.  It's like they randomly found themselves in these far-fetched situations just for the sake of adding action to the plot. And to me, questing out in a hellish war zone set in NYC should have been exciting without even trying. Instead it just felt like Weitz was trying too hard.  Not many of these trials felt like they added anything to the story, instead it was like they were filling up time till we got to the ending.

When we were privy to useful information, about the virus or how it all started, it was mostly in the form of info-dumps.  And when combined with the random action sequences, lackluster romance and characters that ranged from average to worse, The Young World simply did not cut it for me.  I had high hopes for a nice, quality dystopian to suck me in and never let go but this just didn't measure up.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

18 comments:

  1. Booo, I'm sorry this one didn't work for you! But this was a really great review anyway. It totally confirmed my decision to skip it. I'd heard about Donna's narration, which did NOT sound like my thing. And I always hate it when there's just action-for-the-sake-of-action. I hate plots that are driven by chance and not by the characters! D: Boooo. I hope you're able to find an awesome dystopian soon to make up for it!

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    1. Thanks hun ^^ I knew it wasn't rated great going in but I hadn't heard anything about Donna's narration. It definitely was NOT my thing either, ugh! And this was totally a plot driven by chance instead of the characters. I just hope it doesn't put me off dystopians for too long >.<

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  2. Oh no, I was so excited for this book. The synopsis sounded so great! I think I am going to wait with picking this up now and try it when the hype dies down a little.

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    1. I was really excited for this one too! It sounded like just what I needed to get back into dystopians. Womp womp! Well I hope you'll have better luck with it if/when you give it a try :)

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  3. The cover to this one always intrigued me but I don't think I ever even read the synopsis before now. Guess I wasn't missing too much, ha! Ugh, the teen speak thing drives me absolutely insane. I know exactly what you mean. Authors-you're trying too hard. No one talks like that. And info dumps are my very worst literary enemy. Blah. Too bad about this one!

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    1. haha, nope you definitely weren't missing much XD Yeah the teen-speak in Donna's case was definitely laid on thick! It made her come off really ditzy and annoying, I simply couldn't warm up to her. And I agree: hate info dumps. Thanks for stopping by Alise x

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  4. Oh such a shame this one did not live up to the hype! It really was all over BEA this year and I was looking forward to it, not so sure anymore. Thanks for the honest review!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

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    1. I know right?! All the buzz really got me excited and then this ended up being such a letdown. Well, if you do end up giving it a try, hopefully you'll have better luck with it than I did Teresa! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  5. Ehhh yeah... I kind of expected as much from this one despite all the hype. I don't know, perhaps it was wrong of me to pre-judge Chris Weitz, but the assumption that I have about most first time YA writers who don't have a background in writing novels is that it won't live up to the standard that I'm used to seeing. So it doesn't surprise me that you thought it was trying too hard. You're so right, with a premise like that one with all its potential, this one should have been exciting and engaging even without trying! I just know Donna's chapters would annoy me too. So yeah, I'll be skipping this one. Really appreciate this helpful review though!!

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    1. Had I known he was the author beforehand, it would have dampened my enthusiasm too, so I definitely know what you mean! I kind of wish I had known beforehand, it would have saved me from getting all jazzed up for this one for nothing :( And yeah I think Donna's chapters were THE worst thing of all; the way she was described vs the way she thought/spoke just did NOT match up at all! Good call on skipping this one altogether ;-)

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  6. Hmmm, I already have problems with the explanation why teenagers can't get sick, because I don't think there is such a thing like that.. I'm really picky when it comes to medical aspects. Together with your judgement (I think we have similar thoughts about books most of the times), I think it's best to stay away from this one.

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    1. The thing about the teens not being able to catch the sickness was a tad more fleshed out in the book...BUT I would have needed more details on that aspect too. Yeah, I think we do have quite similar tastes book-wise so it's a safe bet for you to stay away from this one I think!

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  7. Well shoot Micheline! I had high hopes for this one after all the BEA buzz! One of my major pet peeves in YA fiction is teen speak - it drives me crazy. Yes, sometimes teenagers have their very own language, but I hate when it's exaggerated and the characters become caricatures instead of feeling like real people. Too bad that's what seemed to happen with Donna:(

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    1. Same here Jenny, this was a pretty big bummer for me! Teen speak is THE worst, it's official. It felt incredibly forced and beyond frustrating. The way Donna was described by others and the way she came off because of her language just didn't add up. :(

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  8. Now that I've trudged through this, too, I can finally comment on your review! You perfectly summed up everything that went through my head while I was reading this, especially the bit about Donna's VERY irksome narrative voice! I felt like I'd read half a book when I was done because I found it so difficult to focus on her chapters. And don't get me started on how the NYC setting wasn't utilized to its full potential because of the sketchy world-building, lol.

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    1. haha^^ no worries Lee, I do the same thing. I was hoping you wouldn't peek here when I saw you were reading this one too - even though I figured you'd probably feel the same way. I can't decide what was worse here: Donna's narrative voice or the random plot detours the gang got into while trying to get to the island o_O And yeah, I wish Weitz had made better use of the fab NYC setting - since that ended up being my favorite part to start with.

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  9. erggh I'm glad I wasn't all that excited to read this one anyways - I'm not a fan of info dumping at all.

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  10. Oh that explanation about the hormones would have made me DNF it right there. It does not quite work like that...I haven't read dystopia in a while but I was hoping this one would be good. Guess not.

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