I gotta say folks, this book was a fun read, in that formulaic, young adult fiction kind of way. I’ve been off this genre for a long time because of that exact reason, but I guess I’ve just been craving a quick and exciting read to get that blood pumping, and this book delivered that for me.
I got hooked fast. We are introduced to the main character, Will West who has been taught by his parents to live his life under the radar. His “mediocre” existence goes all topsy-turvy when, all in one day, he:
- is followed by some shady as hell (heh) black sedans, and
- he finds out he’s scored well above average on a test, catching the attention of an exclusive school.
As I said in the beginning, this is your typical young adult book, with your typical young adult lead. Throw in all the well-known, overused tropes of this genre, and you get this book as a result. But the thing that made it stand out for me were the “Rules To Live By” which were written by Will’s dad. I like how it really sets a groundwork for Will’s personality, and informed his thought process and actions.
A blend of genres. I like how the author weaves in all of my favourite genres: mystery, science, fantasy, history. At first, when all those elements were coming together, I was confused on how I should feel, and at times felt a little overwhelmed by the (excuse my language, please) clusterfuck of images and ideas zooming through my head. However, like most fictional things, sometimes you just have to learn to roll with all the crazy, and I think overall, Frost handled the descriptions quite well, really filling out the book in a way that made it feel a little more real.
A likeable bunch of characters. There are a lot of them, however each is given distinct personalities and background stories that made me develop an instant attachment to them. But here is the aspect of the book that I struggled with a little, more so than the blend of genres, for reasons which I’ll dot point because sometimes I can’t form my thoughts into proper sentences. 😛
- The way women are very much seen and represented through the male gaze.
- One-dimensional, cardboard cutout descriptions of Samoan security. As someone who grew up in a community with a strong Islander presence, I have to admit that this point annoyed me. Because, yes, while Samoans are certainly all the things that Frost describes them to be, which is boiled down to them being BFG’s who can also be very intimidating, they are so much more than that, i.e. normal human beings with complex personalities. Such a great opportunity wasted.
- Overall, I kind of felt like he threw in minority characters for the sake of it because of how they were represented in the book, to be honest. *Shrugs*
But you know what? Despite all of this, I’m going to be reading the next book. There is always hope that the next can be better, and honestly, I can be such a sucker for all the fun hijinks that a book like this, and this genre in general, can offer. There are still so many questions I need answered, and things that I want to see, like the Alliance — Will and his roommates — working together to rediscover and learn about themselves, and the nature of their births. If there is one trope in all the history of tropes that I love most, it is a group of strangers, all with different personalities, beliefs and backgrounds, coming together for The Greater Good.