Thursday, March 5, 2015

Divided We Fall

Reedy, T. (2014). Divided We Fall: Divided We Fall Trilogy #1. NY: Scholastic Audio.

YA / Audiobook / Speculative Realistic Fiction

I gave this audiobook 4 of 5 stars.

The downside of getting free audiobooks and just hitting play is that you don’t know when the book’s going to end. Or if the book is the first of a series. I spent hours listening and waiting for an ending that never happened because I thought this was a stand alone book, when in fact, it’s the first in a trilogy. ARRGH! Fortunately, my time was well spent and though the ending left me hanging, I am looking forward to the next installment.

The setting of this action packed story is the United States in the just barely around the corner future. The premise is completely believable, and listening to the story, I found myself tensing up and feeling anxious as if what I was listening to was real and happening right now -- that is thanks to the news flashes and social media updates in the book for which the audio version used a variety of actors to voice. (side note: had to laugh at the Texas Senator accent – do the Texans of the future sound like they are from Maine?) There is a strong message about the power and misuse of the power of the media.

The book manages to give to readers a pretty good civics lesson on state versus federal rights and the line between which side is good and what it means to be a patriot is blurry. (not to be overlooked, readers are given a not-so-gentle reminder that if enlisting in any branch of the military, be prepared to be called into service for your country. ) Main character Danny is likeable, faults and all, and more importantly, he’s familiar: he’s a kid we’ve all known before. . . minus the whole war-starting business. Yes, the cheesiness is plentiful, and sometimes it is so clearly teenage boy fantasy material (football, guns, powerful engines, outrunning the cops, beautiful stand-by-her-man girlfriend who puts-out) that I had to laugh when another response was surely what the author intended. Nonetheless, the story was fascinating and engaging enough that I even increased the delivery speed so that it played faster.

I hope that the snapshot of what’s normal and acceptable in small town teenager life is wrong – as even the smart, level-headed kids seem to spend every spare moment drinking excessively and looking for (and getting) hook-ups, while parents, teachers, and law look the other way. And the loyal Sweeney, Danny’s best friend . . . his blatant sexism that everyone just laughs off was troubling, as it really shouldn’t have been considered funny. By the same token, in the real world, there are kids just like Sweeney, and they are tolerated and even revered, so Reedy nailed his portrayal.

There is significant violence and gore, a fairly high body count, strong language, implied sexual interactions between minors, and considerable underage drinking. I would recommend this book for ages 15 and up.

Thank you to SYNC Audiobooks for providing this free download, and in exchange, I have provided an honest review -- the only kind I give.

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