Monday, April 7, 2014

"Luminary" by Krista McGee {book review}

| Music listened to while writing this post:
Falcons (Sidelmann Remix) - Sam Simmon
All For You - Haerts
Wings - Haerts
Houdini (RAC Remix) - Foster The People + RAC
Exit Calypsan - Falling Up
Into Darkness - Thomas Bergerson
Wings - Birdy
End of the World - Ingrid Michaelson
Overdose - Little Daylight |
Thalli thought escaping to the surface would mean freedom. But is she any less of an anomaly aboveground?
After escaping an underground annihilation chamber, Thalli, Berk, Rhen, and John find themselves fleeing across the former United States, aboveground for the first time. As the defectors cross the for gotten landscape, the three youths see things the y had only read about on screens: horses, rain, real books—and a colony of unsanctioned survivors living the ancient way in a town called New Hope.
When the citizens of New Hope reveal the truth of what happened years ago, Thalli is left unsettled and skeptical of everything she’s ever been told. Can she trust anything from the State, including her own feelings for Berk? When she volunteers for a peace mission to New Hope’s violent neighbor, Athens, her confusion mounts as the supposedly ruthless Prince Ale x turns out to be kind and charming. Although everyone in New Hope warned her not to, she can’t help but fall for him.
Meanwhile, John’s unwavering faith in the goodness of the Designer begins to make its mark on Thalli’s heart. But can Thalli really come to trust in a generous, protective Designer who rules over all things? Would that not be setting herself up for another betrayal?
The time for her to decide is now . . . because the State is closing in.
So I was pretty excited to get to read and review the anticipated sequel to Anomaly. Even though I felt like Anomaly took me on more of an emotional rollercoaster than Luminary, it still was a great read. I found myself flying through the pages, eager to keep reading, and if you like a fast-paced dystopian thriller I'm sure you will too. (Although you definitely need to read Anomaly first.)
Although slow starting out for the first five chapters, it quickly shapes into something you can't take your attention from.
Thalli is frustrated. With herself, God, and her friends. Especially Berk. She's worried that he's fallen for Rhen and no longer loves her as he used to. She's constantly taken by fear that the Scientists will find them as they explore the desolate remains of the world above - earth.
And then, boom. Suddenly the little group of pioneers discovers that they're not alone. They stumble upon a charming little settlement and soon are attempting to make themselves at home.
Next thing, Thalli's being doted on by a light-haired 'prince' and....I'll stop there.
Throughout the whole book the Berk drama continues. It's a little annoying at times because it feels somewhat overdone. I mean, yes, we all know Thalli's super emotional and that contributes to the problem, but hey. I get the melodramatic deal. I'm a drama queen myself - one of the big reasons I can relate to Thalli so well. That being said, her issues with Berk were probably my least favorite element of the plot.
The plot in general stayed pretty predictable (with a few exceptions) in comparison to that of Anomaly.  There were some details concerning the Scientists and Athens which were pretty amazing and break-through, however.
Something very, very sad happened. *sniffff* Somebody....dies. I was expecting it, yes. But that didn't make it any less tragic. I won't say anything more.
Refer to my review of Anomaly as obviously the genre didn't change here. My thoughts remain the same.
Man, what a cast of characters in this one. I could give a note of reference to all the new ones but that would take a while so I'm only mentioning two - the ones that stood out most, of all the 'newbies'.
Alex. He's pretty amazing, really. I love the multi-fold layers/aspects of his personality. Personally, as much as a Berk/Thalli relationship is cute and kind of the default option, I can totally ship Alex and Thalli.
Alex reminds me of a prince from Atlantis or something. I don't know why. Maybe it's his long, messy blond hair. He's fiery, fierce and thoroughly unpredictable. Deep down, he strives for justice and peace. He's fed up with his murderous, evil father.
Speaking of which. King Jason, Alex's father. I hate him. I just.....yeah. He infuriated me. If you want a blatantly wicked antagonist there's one for ya.
I thought it was interesting that the settlement of Athens was vaguely modeled after the real Athens. Athens in general is a fascinating place. Everything is painted black to collect solar energy - which makes it feel ominous and yet grandiose in a way.
I loved the contrast of the simplicity in New Hope compared to the peculiar wonders in Athens. Also, good vibrant imagery just in general of both locations.
Underlying Theme(s):
Refer back to my review of Anomaly. Pretty much the same theme - Thalli seeking God's presence and learning who she really is.  Also, her learning to trust Him in adversity.
(On a 1 - 10 basis, 1 being the most mild and 10 the most extreme:) WARNING - SPOILERS!
Violence: Even though there was little actual bloodshed it was amplified by its setting and context. There were no medical experimentations and neurosurgeries taking place. There is however, a scene where mutant wolves attack Thalli, Rhen, Berk and John before they get to New Hope. Berk is injured severely. And more disturbing, there's King Jason's sadistic schemes. He uses gas to keep the citizens of Athens under his subjection. He gasses Thalli to make her cooperate, and it's revealed that he murdered his own wife and would just as easily murder his children. (In fact, Thalli discovers he even planned to have her assassinated, for political reasons.) King Jason uses public torture and execution as a means to scare his people into submission, and overall it seems he just has a lust for bloodshed. His kills his daughter, accusing Thalli for it to instigate hatred between the Athenians and New Hope people.
Sexual context: 1 Nothing explicit occurs. Dallas comments that Rhen and Thalli are the nicest looking girls he's ever seen.
I think Anomaly is still my favorite of this series. However, I still greatly enjoyed this volume. It was encouraging to see Thalli learn to place her trust in God instead of leaning on her own strength. It was devastating to see the wickedness that one man could spawn. It was traumatic, the romantic relationships morass. Berk or Alex? Alex or Berk? If I've learned one thing so far about this series, it's that you can't trust anything for very long. Just when you think a certain character is so wonderful, the truth is revealed - or that character dies. People are not what they seem, and reading Luminary, I felt as confused and contemplative as the protagonist herself. I was captivated by the cultures displayed in Athens and New Hope. I was elated at yet more musical references. I was on the edge of my seat for the good last half of the book.
I was sucked into a thrilling world with a tremendously heartbreaking backstory. I was left in inner turmoil over what could possibly happen next.
In conclusion? I was left hungry for more.

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