Published by Harper Collins on 7/3/2012
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?
Once picks up a few months after Eve has made it to Califia and is in their care, making her living in a new world of women. But all is not what it would seem, or what she thinks it might be…
I liked the first book, Eve, but I didn’t love it. It was just okay for me, because it was up against such heavy hitters such as Wither, Blood Red Road and other superbly fantastic young adult dystopian novels. But Once has earned its place in that fine line-up, bringing Eve with it. I truly enjoyed each aspect of this story and how Carey took Eve from a mediocre protagonist to a strong, independent woman willing to do anything for what she believes is right. I was honestly hoping for this sort of character development and I am so happy that Carey delivered in spades. There is a lot of personal growth in Once for Eve. She isn’t who she thought she was and that turns her world upside-down (as if it wasn’t already?). Not only does she have to deal with an identity crisis, which she does with grace and spunk, she also has to deal with a new world around her, new people who know nothing of what the Schools are really like and pushy individuals who think they know what’s better for her than she does. The other characters are equally great in Once: Caleb is ever as determined as he was in Eve to be with her. Arden is just as hard (and I also loved seeing a new side of her). We also get to meet a myriad of new characters, but I’m not going to name them in this review, because I do not want to spoil Once for you. They are an integral part to plot twists. Let’s just say that I suspected something about Eve and I was right, but I was still left in amazement. There wasn’t really a love triangle in Eve. There is one in Once, but Carey has carefully constructed this triangle to be the most intriguing triangle I’ve ever read. It’s always interesting when there are 3 involved people in a love triangle, but one of them doesn’t want to be. I am very curious where Carey is going to take these three in the third book. The plot of Once is a thinker: if a virus wiped out most of civilization and you were in charge of restoring humanity, how would you go about doing it? The King’s answer is to put girls in procreation centers (aka, the building across the lake from the School in the first book). Do you think that’s his only choice? I’m not sure where I fall with this. I think I would want to do anything I could to restore my people and my country, but at what cost? And would I care? That’s an honest question. At what point does the good of the country and humanity outweigh the choice of people? Maybe never. What I loved most is that Eve knew which side she was on and she stood up for what she believed in. Without regard to herself, she made her opinions known. Eve is one of the more courageous characters I’ve met. Overall, Anna Carey has written an engaging and thought-provoking sequel. I can’t wait to see where she takes us next.
“There are millions of stars, each one shining and burning out at the same time. They die like everything else – you have to appreciate them before they’re gone.”
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