Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Review: Above by Isla Morley

Author: Isla Morley
Genre: Dystopian, Apocalyptic
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 4, 2014


ADD TO GOODREADS

I am a secret no one is able to tell.

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an aban­doned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Deter­mined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give mean­ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promis­ing and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.

Review
Bold, ambitious and extraordinarily unique, Above by Isla Morley is one of the best Dystopians I've read so far this year. I'm sure many people will compare this one to a book called Room by Emma Donoghue but for me personally I felt this story was more a mix of Pods by Michelle Pickett , In the End by Demitria Lunetta with a little bit of Enclave by Ann Aguirre thrown in just to make things interesting.

One of the best parts about Above were the characters. For a good portion of the story the only people we see are Blythe and Dobbs. While were supposed to treat Dobbs as nothing more than a Doomsday obsessed whack job and he is mind you, it's always lingering in the back of the mind that maybe he isn't so crazy as he appears to be after all. Whereas with Blythe the story really shows her descent into madness through her long years in captivity and then finding the strength to live the life she's been given once she's finally achieved the freedom she so desperately craved. I also liked the side characters we meet later in the story Marcus and Ginny. Oh and the dog whose name I can't remember but I loved how protective he was of Adam. The way they bonded despite the cruelties surrounding them warmed my heart.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the story was its buildup. If you love back story then you'll love Above since it spends the first 17+ years (roughly half the book) building up the life of Blythe in captivity being prepared by Dobbs for this supposedly brutal future about to happen that will forever change the landscape of life as we know it. Now I admit, I did have trouble staying invested in the beginning due to how uncomfortable the situation Blythe was in made me but once things started to come together around the 30% mark, I was glued to the book and finished the remainder all in one sitting.

Lastly, I loved the ending. It was a very realistic end to the story and showed that life is really what you make it out to be. You can dwell on the past and forever question the decisions you've made or you can march on forward with your head held high and make the best out of the hand you've been dealt. It was a touching end to the story without feeling cliche or overly optimistic and I liked that.

Now despite really loving Above I have just a few small issues with the story that I'll list below. These in no way change my rating of the over all book but bugged me enough that I feel they should be mentioned.

First off, We see that Dobbs likes Blythe clean shaven and at first I thought this was probably a control tactic or even hygienic but once she's "matured" this is dropped entirely and she's allowed to grow her hair out again if she pleases. I would of liked to know why it was done in the first place if he didn't care enough to continue with it once she'd been sullied by childbirth.

Secondly, I would of liked a bit more back story on Dobbs. What information or event in his life caused him to go to such extremes as shown in the book. I know we learn things about him after that while maybe not redeeming him does show he had a plan all along but it didn't really offer any new insight into him before Blythe came into his life.

Lastly, we learn of other children that had been squirreled away for safe keeping but not to the extent that we see them. I wonder if they were all singular captives like Blythe or were whole families rounded up and saved before things descended into chaos above? Were all those children treated like her or was Dobbs really just a pedophile under all the preparedness propaganda after all?

Final Thoughts
From the writing to the characters, Above was everything I hoped it would be and then some. Would I recommend it? Heck yeah! If you liked any of the books I mentioned above then I'm sure you'll love this one. Now I will say, I hope that this has story has a sequel or even a companion following Adam and his new lady love as they seek to bring down the Sunflower group. Enough was teased to make me want more, plus we still need to learn what ever happened to Blythe's parents. However, could this be read and kept as a stand alone? Sure, but I personally don't think it should be. With that being said, I'll be rating Above by Isla Morley ★★★.

 *Copy provided by Netgalley.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way  for providing them.

About the Author
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Isla Morley grew up in South Africa during apartheid, the child of a British father and fourth-generation South African mother. During the countrys State of Emergency, she graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth with a degree in English Literature. By 1994 she was one of the youngest magazine editors in South Africa, but left career, country and kin when she married an American and moved to California. For more than a decade she pursued a career in non-profit work, focusing on the needs of women and children. Her debut novel, Come Sunday, was awarded the 2009 Kafka Prize for Fiction, and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize.

She has lived in some of the most culturally diverse places of the world, including Johannesburg, London and Honolulu. Now in the Los Angeles area, she shares a home with her husband, daughter, a cat, two dogs and three tortoises.

2 comments:

  1. You had me at "one of the best dystopians you've read this year"! I'm always on the lookout for a fresh take on the genre. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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