Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Book: Shymers by Jen Naumann

Book 1 of the Shymer Series.

Olive has grown up in hiding, in the free lands, since she was 6 years old. After her father's death she and her mother are captured and taken back to Society where Olive's mother is put into 'suspension' and Olive is sent to live in an orphanage. In the society it is mandatory for everyone to know their DOD, or Date of Death, and under 18s are then split into two groups and school, the Futures and the Shymers. Futures all have DODs after they turn 18, and tend to be physically enhanced to the 'perfect' blonde appearance, Shymers all have DODs before they turn 18, are generally ignored and looked down upon in society up to the point that parents abandon Shymer children to orphanages like the one Olive gets put into. On her first day of school, at 16, Olive makes friends with a group of Shymers, including Bree and Harrison, who she instantly falls for and who falls for her instantly. Yet all the time Olive is dreaming of returning to the Free Lands, but now she wants to take Harrison and Bree with her, yet when she gets there things are not all that they were planned to be...

The story was told from Olive's point of view, with the occasional section told by Harrison, the change to which was made obvious and so it was easy to tell who was speaking. I found that this was a different way of telling the story, and in this case it was useful. There wasn't as much is he-isn't he interested speel that you get sometimes because the reader is aware that he is, so it allows more time to be dedicated to the other plot points.

The relationship between Olive and Harrison did seem to be a little romanticised, almost like a fairytale where the Prince sees the Princess and they instantly fall in love, and in fact at one point Olive does liken them to it. The fact that she (and the author) recognises that it is overly romanticised makes it far less annoying than in other books (it is an overused plot point), and this meant I could just go with it rather than getting frustrated. Saying that, though it was love at first sight, there seemed to be a lot of obstacles to overcome for them to even admit they liked each other, again making the fairytale storyline less annoying.

The Society that they were exiting from was interesting, the idea that everyone knows when they're going to die is slightly disturbing, but that wasn't what made the Society the most disturbing. It was how people were treated vastly differently because of when they would die, and to some extent what they looked like, because   Futures and Shymers appeared different. I'd be interested to learn more about the structure of the Society itself.

The twists in the story, because there always are some, one of them I found coming, and that involved the mystery surrounding Kendall, there may have been a fist pump involved when my theory was confirmed. The other major twist I didn't see coming, probably because I hadn't thought about it, if I had then wording of a certain event earlier in the novel may have given it away.

One thing that annoyed me majorly was the severe amount of good luck the main characters seemed to have, and I'm not just talking about Olive. In a situation like they were in they shouldn't have been able to find each other quite so easily!

I know I will be reading the next book simply because I have a theory about who the underground people are and I want to know if I'm right, as well as the fact that I enjoyed the book. Saying that it is far from the best dystopian book that I have read, though I do believe that the sequel will be better simply because the author has had this book to refine her writing.