Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Anomaly" by Krista McGee {book review}

| Music listened to while writing this post:
Millennium - Audiomachine
Solar Sailor - Daft Punk
This Is Our Legacy - Zack Hemsey
Mind Heist - Zack Hemsey
Brian Boru's March - Celtic Moods
Great Deceiver - Danny Cocke
Tyven - Seven Lions  |
When I first saw the cover of Anomaly by Krista McGee, I was instantly intrigued. For one, the very title alone hooked me. "Anomaly" is a fabulous word and holds a steady place in my day-to-day vocabulary. I've always felt like an anomaly, in my own way.
 So I guess instinctively this fact made me feel drawn to the premise of this YA novel.
Not to mention, while we're on the topic of the cover, it is a gorgeous one. I love the subtle, femininely muted colors and then the bright pop of green in the girl's eyes.  It's stunning.
Question. Feel. Believe.
The back-cover blurb reads:
Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.
Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world was decimated by a nuclear war. But life continued deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. There they created genetically engineered human beings who are free of emotions in the hope that war won’t threaten the world again.
Thalli is an anomaly, born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far by hiding her differences. But then her secret is discovered when she’s overwhelmed by the emotion of an ancient piece of music.
The Ten quickly schedule her annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk—a scientist being groomed by The Ten—convinces them 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.
As her life ticks a way, 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 to trust, before her time runs out.
Man, is that the beginnings of a thriller, or is it?!
On one hand, the whole "controlling government/higher power/leaders" thing is so predominant these days that the plot of Anomaly initially sounded a bit unoriginal. In some ways it can be compared closely to Aquifer, by Jonathan Friesen. Both books deal with a society that frowns on emotion and punishes those who have/indulge it. Both books have a set of domineering world-leaders referred to as a number - The Ten, etc.
Both books deal with fallen, corrupted future earths.
And fact is, just about every other book these days is written in first person, present tense.
But despite all this, Anomaly still held its own. It holds a distinct presence amid the ever-popular genre of dystopian YA fiction.  I flew through the pages and drank it all up as if it were a cup of chocolate milk - I love chocolate milk.
The entire story of Anomaly revolves around Thalli learning who she truly is. At core, it's about her learning how to discern reality from fabrications/simulations; truth from lies. Ultimately, Anomaly is a story about a girl being subtly drawn to the knowledge of the Savior and Creator.
Yes, the initial draw is about a teen girl who's been doomed to a soon-approaching death sentence, and all because she can feel what 99% of everyone else can't. But deep down, the further you go, you realize it's about so much more.
There were a few mind-blowing plot twists, which, even though they wrecked havoc on ze feels, were quite ingenious. Thalli is constantly having to reevaluate her surroundings and the events taking place in her life because it's so hard to know what's real and what's not. This difficulty to perceive reality is equally hard for the reader. It's only made trickier by the plot twists.  As you all know, I soak up plot twists like a sponge. I loooove them.
I've said this time and time again, so I'll spare you all and merely give a brief recap.
Dystopian YA fiction is super popular these days, and that means that a lot of stuff will be really unoriginal - Therefore, I personally will be less likely to want to read it. HOWEVER. For some reason I seem to gravitate toward post-apocalyptic stories like this. Perhaps because they make me appreciate the reality I'm living in now. They present stark contrasts, and a daunting idea of what man can become without God. They make me grateful that I live in 2014 and not 3014.
Thalli is a very endearing personality, and I instantly felt a connection to her character.
For one, she's a musician. A musician. Need I say any more?! What got her in trouble was letting her emotions pour into a classical piano piece. For real, I can so relate with this. Give me a fictional character who is obsessed with playing the piano and instantly I'll love you - and the character. Thalli's obsession with asking questions also made me like her better. Questions are wonderful things, and there's nothing more boring than a person - or character, in this case - who doesn't ask them.
Okay, I'll admit I was frustrated when (SPOILERS) a certain character named Stone was never even real to begin with. That hurt. He seemed really cute and sweet. And his family, too. Of course, then again it seemed too good to be true at the time. And you know how stuff like that usually is.
I really liked John, an older man who'd been labeled insane. His strong Christian values and character really made me feel for his struggle and endurance. I loved the conversations he and Thalli had concerning God, love and marriage in particular.
Thalli's world is a overly-sanitized underground place with dwellings called "pods". I have a difficulty imagining whether these things look like house-sized ball-structures as their name suggests, or if they look more like squarely-shaped, cement-block type buildings. There is however, grass. Fake grass, but still, at least they tried to replicate what they lost, right? It's implied that the world aboveground is desolate and toxic. (It's also implied that the world is actually still livable, if you have the guts and determination.) Inside the pods, Thalli and her friends (and enemies) abide within bleach-white walls with no furnishings or color. It's the classic, completely-hygienic dystopian nightmare.
Underlying Theme(s):
I love how blatantly the author speaks of God and His existence. It's such a refreshing thing in dystopian fiction, where most of the time all is so dark and bleak. It makes the story full of hope, even when terror, trauma and disaster are at the door. I don't like to call books, music or movies "Christian" because it's such a generic term and is so misused in such things already. But I do think Anomaly would appeal greatly to the Christ-following audience. I also hope that non-believers read it. It has some awesome spiritual discussions and some sequences are truly heart-rending. This is my favorite aspect of the book.
(On a 1 - 10 basis, 1 being the most mild and 10 the most extreme:)WARNING - SPOILERS!

Violence: 5. This isn't your shoot-em'-up deal where rebel alliances or guerilla warriors are fighting back against the government with physical force. It's 'hospital-violence,' which can be arguably far more disturbing. Characters are injected with all manner of drug and who-knows-what-else, made to go through simulations which are scarily real-looking, and countless are euthanized in a very subtle, hygienic manner. Thalli is operated on and doctors poke around in her brain. Basically, it's a classic nightmare. The reason I give it a five, is because to me "hospital violence" is a lot more perturbing than blatant cops-and-robbers violence. Nothing scares me more than brain surgeries involving the erasing of ones' memory. (Yes, I warned you already there were spoilers in this section.)
Sexual Content: 1. Berk and Thalli share romantic feelings, but thankfully we don't witness anything too intimate between them, other than a kiss, holding hands, etc. Thalli for a brief time becomes attached to a guy named Stone, and is conflicted about her feelings between him and Berk. And then it's revealed he never existed. Boom. (I sure hope you're not reading this if you haven't read the book yet.)
Get yourself a copy and read Anomaly. Just do it, okay? Because there is so much you're missing out on if you don't.  So much drama, beautiful moments, suspense and times when you almost want to cry. The feeeeels, people. THE FEELS!
Anomaly is written in a simple, breathable manner. The word choices are raw and organic in feeling, which makes for a rich reading experience. Thalli is a masterfully-crafted character, and her emotions and experiences are told in a way that makes you feel like you're right there inside her head, living what she's living. The twisting labyrinth of a plotline is enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, and each event that unfolds sinks in deep, pulls on your heartstrings. In short, you will experience emotional traumatization.
Overall, I give it my seal of approval, even though I don't officially literal seal of approval. Anyway, I really enjoyed this volume and I'm sure you will too. So read it. And then tell me so we can talk about all the spoilers together!
Note: I was provided a copy of Anomaly in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed remain mine and mine alone.


  1. I KNOW. THE FEELS. *sniff* It's such a good story though.

  2. I'm loving your blog! And I'd love to be bloggy friends!