Author: Sara Grant
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown
ARC, 308 pages
Date Published: August 3, 2011
Description (Taken from Big Honcho Media - Link to Goodreads):
In a world shrouded in fear and lies, how can you shed light on the truth?
Sixteen-year-old Neva lives in Homeland, an isolated country separated from the rest of the world by the Protectosphere. The government insists there’s nothing beyond its borders, but as Homeland’s resources dwindle, people, girls mainly, have started to go missing. If there’s no way out of the Protectosphere, where are they going? Suspecting the government is lying about everything, Neva and her friends stage a Dark Party in the hope of uncovering the truth and finding the freedom they dream about.
I liked Neva, but I had issues connecting with her. I felt strongest about her when she was thinking about the Missing people that she writes about in her journal and remembering her Grandmother who named her. Aside from that, Neva’s strong, sure, but she’s also a bit obsessed with red-booted Braydon. I get that the guy has some sex appeal, but she wants him and a lot. All based on a kiss in the dark. It’s like that one kiss dominates her thoughts, especially since she didn’t really like Braydon before that. Her internal war between wanting Braydon and not wanting Braydon got to be a bit much.
The secondary characters like Sanna (Neva’s best friend and Braydon’s girlfriend), Braydon, and Neva’s boyfriend Ethan stood out, but not a great deal. They play their roles and play them well, but I never connected with them or with their relationships with Neva. Braydon is supposed to be all sexy and broody, but I had issues getting behind a romance between him and Neva when it was all based on that one kiss. Neva’s raging guilt pecked at her constantly too. She grows throughout the story though and her reactions towards Ethan showcase her more mature mindset. Surprisingly, it was Neva’s mother and father who struck me as complicated characters. We don’t get to know them that much, but their minimal presence bears a lot of weight in the story.
As much as I enjoyed Dark Parties, the focus on sex and procreation threw me for a loop at first. I hadn’t realized it would be such a huge part of the plot and it is. There are fewer children being born, so the government has to go to extreme measures to keep the population up. It makes sense for the plot, but I didn’t realize it would be such a huge focal point. So much so that Neva has all her friends make a vow to not have sex and give into the government’s wishes for the 16 year olds (their age of adulthood) to get pregnant.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed Dark Parties. Sara Grant has added a worthy title to the ever-growing list of dystopian young adult books. This is definitely more a utopia with dystopian elements, but still interesting and actually realistic too. It doesn’t seem like a stretch that a community would wall itself off from the rest of the world and then dictate the lives of its citizens from then on. Dark Parties feels a bit reminiscent of 1984, only with a younger audience in mind. If you’re a fan of dystopians, then be sure to check this one out.
Opening line: I’m standing in the dark, not the gentle gray of dusk or the soft black of a moonlit night but pitch-black. ~ pg. 1
Favorite lines/passages: Maybe things can change. It’s an impossible thought, but this hope is now a balloon floating above me and I’m holding on to it with a very thin string. ~ pg. 37
And this one:We are safe for now and that’s all that matters. I sniff and wipe my eyes on the pillow. I’ve been living in a carefully constructed house of lies. I’ll let Sanna live there a little while longer. I was much happier not knowing. ~ pg. 262
*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy
3.5*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.
The first two chapters of Dark Parties are available online to preview. If you're interested, make sure you check it out!
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