Monday, 19 May 2014

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Plus One
Elizabeth Fama
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Books for Young Readers
[April 8, 2014]

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

I'm not even going to pretend - I wanted this book because of some major cover lust. And then I read the description and was intrigued enough to get a copy from the office (Quick Note: I was an editorial intern at FSG, but my internship ended last week. This is also why you're now getting a bunch of Macmillan-title reviews). And I enjoyed the book but...I had some issues. Really big issues that a lot of people would probably overlook and may not even be in the final copy.

It was a really interesting read. Lots of back and forth between the characters with some really great banter and it was really action packed, though you had to ignore how unrealistic it was. I was never bored when reading it. The world was also interesting too. It brings up these very real issues in this different light because so often we don't want to read about these issues of segregation and prejudice in the real world, and this just helps us see it and even better understand how ridiculous it is.

The love story was kind of Romeo and Juliet-esque because of this separation of people. They were never supposed to meet, much less work together and fall in love. Forbidden love stories are often some of my favorites, so I thought this was a really great aspect.

I also enjoyed some of the side characters and the complex relationships shown, especially among families. Sol and Darcy both had some major family issues going on that were relevant to the story and complex and heartbreaking. Those were actually some of my favorite parts of the book.

So, everything sounds good, right? I'm rolling along, enjoying the read, thinking "Damn, I'm going to come out of 2014 with so many favorite reads!" And then it happened. 

A rape threat was used as a punch line.

I remember rereading it a couple of times, trying to figure out if that actually just happened and...yeah. It did. It was over dramatic and really uncalled for in the situation, which is how I knew it was supposed to be funny. And rape jokes are never okay, but I thought maybe I could overlook it...until it happened a second time from the same character. This was no longer an accident, something other people missed in earlier editing passes. These were left on purpose.

This book openly discusses sex and prostitution in a really great way, genuinely bringing attention to it. But when it came to rape, it was kind of awful. This same character who has these "punch lines" also threatens to rape the main characters as a form of payment, and it's played off like no big deal and we're supposed to feel bad for this character and like her. Admittedly, she has a pretty tragic story, but that doesn't mean it should be okay for her to act like this and treat other characters like this. It left me feeling really gross.

I've noticed NOBODY else has mentioned these in their reviews (that I've seen) and I don't have a copy to verify they happened (and even then, I read an ARC), but I did have a friend who was able to show me some of the scenes involving rape (including the one where this girl threatens to rape the main characters) and I feel gross all over again.

If that's the kind of thing you can get over, then it's a fun, though rather unrealistic read. If not, you may want to steer clear. Or at least check it out from the library in case I did imagine it/it has been taken out.


1 comment:

  1. I bought that book a couple of Werks ago, so I Don't know, if the rape-scenes are still in there. I'm going to read it next week.
    Great blog btw, I'm following you now :)



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