By Sara Grant, published by Indigo (Orion).
Goodreads synopsis: Present day: Icie is a typical high school teenager – until disaster strikes and her parents send her to find shelter inside a mountain near Las Vegas.
The future: Beckett lives on The Mountain – a sacred place devoted to the Great I AM. He must soon become the leader of his people. But Beckett is forced to break one of the sacred laws, and when the Great I AM does not strike him down, Beckett finds himself starting to question his beliefs.
As Beckett investigates The Mountain’s history, Icie’s story is revealed – along with the terrifying truth of what lies at the heart of The Mountain.
Sara Grant’s HALF LIVES is a dystopian chronicle of the journeys of two unlikely heroes in their race against time to save future generations.
My review: Half Lives is, possibly, the most emotional and brilliant book I have read all year! I was really looking forward to reading it, seeing as I’d seriously enjoyed Sara’s Dark Parties. It started off really well- I was immediately absorbed into the life of Icie, and everyday teenager, and was curious to see how Icie’s world was going to change forever and why. Then, the narrative switched to that of Beckett, who worships ‘The Great I AM’ on the same mountain Icie is travelling to take refuge on. I was really confused at how that related to Icie’s tale, but after a few chapters in the different perspectives, both hundreds of years apart, I got the hang of it and it really was quite clever.
Icie’s story was a brilliant mix of dystopia and hope and survival. After this disease (Which I would’ve liked a bit more explanation of) was released and the general chaos in America began, this heart-stopping adventure ensued for Icie, and she picked up three very different people on the way. I liked the constant conflicts between the four unlikely survival group as they tried to start over a new life in a cave with limited food supplies. Just past the middle, things in Icie’s apocalyptic world began to fall apart and spiral out of control as the disease began to claim the mountain. I can’t really say anything more about it, because I’ll end up revealing the plot twists towards the end! What I will say, though, is that it gets heart-breaking and terrifying, with some real knuckle-biting moments, but then the ending for Icie’s tale is actually really sweet and brought a happy tear to my eye.
Icie was such a brilliant protagonist. She went through so much throughout the book and there was a lot of visible development in her character. Her relationship with Chaske was a little predictable- of course she’d win him!- and I really liked her friendships with Marissa and Tate, the other survivors. She adapted to her whole new, changed and broken world like any human would- which is what I loved about her. Her emotions and actions were really realistic and believable. I really felt like she was a real person, and that I was with her during her terrifying tale. I was so happy for her at her happy ending to a sad story!
Beckett’s world was so much different from Icie’s. He lives on the mountain Icie did hundreds of years before him, and is a heavy worshipper of ‘The Great I AM’ who generations before him- you’ve probably guessed who that really is. I actually found a lot of the worships and prayers quite funny, because Beckett and his ‘cheerleaders’ (You’ll get why they’re called that a while into the book) kept referencing to ‘The Great Facebook’ and things like that, from The Old World. The now sacred mountain made a really great setting for his story, and so was the surrounding town of Vega. Well, it’s based on Vegas, but I’m guessing it’s named Vega in the future because the S fell off the sign or something. Sara Grant has created such a horrifying, dystopic vision of the future, and it really was quite scary.
Beckett’s half of the book, told between Icie’s chapters, was differently written. Icie’s stuff was told in first person perspective, but Beckett’s was portrayed from the third person, and focused on the people around him too. That difference was a good thing, though, because I got to see was the other members of his religious tribe thought about him. I really liked the protagonist Beckett because he was so passionate and willing to do and sacrifice anything for his religion. Her was a very strong character. The plot for his story was so different to Icie’s plot, but it was still really brilliant and teaches lessons about love, hope, and betrayal. His ending, too, was really great. I loved the discovery he made and how that affected his whole personality and beliefs. His last chapter was the last one in the book, and it finished off the story ever so brilliantly.
Overall, Half Lives is possibly the best book I have read this year. Honestly. It was so riveting and I really couldn’t stop reading. The backdrop was scary and dystopic, with a unique and original twist. The characters of Icie and Beckett were totally unforgettable, and I’m still thinking about them now- a day after I put the book down. I can’t recommend this enough to YA’s, fans of dystopia, and fans of stories with unique formats. It’s just so great, go get a copy now!
My Goodreads rating: 5/5!
I received Half Lives from the publisher, in exchange for a review.