Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Plus One - Elizabeth Fama

Release Date: April 8, 2014
Source: ARC
Published by: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

Plus One - Elizabeth Fama | Goodreads

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.


Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Sol, the protagonist - Sol is an absolutely wonderful heroine to follow, and I say heroine because even though some of her actions are not quite reasonable, she's good-hearted. She loves passionately. She's sarcastic, fierce. She didn't do well in school, but there's no doubt that she's smart and independent and who the teachers (and everyone else) had clearly underestimated. You know the fiery red-head stereotype? Sol is like that, but transcends that stereotype because of the little details that Fama uses to sketch her character, like in her relationship with Poppu.

2. (+) World-building - Not only do we get an explanation for how the Night/Day divide came about (this reads to me like a dystopian standalone, and where some dystopias don't give you that information, this one does), but we also get little details like social greetings and cues (Smudges are asked to stay quiet; they nod to each other, etc.) and little things that help ground the dystopia, like day/night passes, Hour Guard rotations, and even considerations towards foreign policy issues (you really don't get a lot of explanation in YA dystopians about how other countries besides the US have dealt with the issue). In short, Fama did a good job grounding readers in the world while expanding our understanding of it with certain plot twists.

3. (+) The Romance - What I really liked about the romance in Plus One was how past and present were intertwined, how D'Arcy and Sol became friends before they came anything else. In the present, it's a sort of hate-turned-love story; a lot of mistrust and misunderstandings in the beginning, but they slowly fade as D'Arcy helps Sol with her plan and Sol shows D'Arcy another world, one that makes him question how he's living his entire life. The romance was good at facilitating D'Arcy's character growth (in addition to Sol's) and combined both slow-burn and quick intensity. And honestly, I thought the premise behind the past aspects of Sol and D'Arcy knowing each other was one of the cutest things. Another favorite part? The amount of respect D'Arcy had for Sol and the way the non-clean parts were handled.

4. (+/-) Plot - I think the thing I could not get over while reading this book was the overall plot. That so much of it had focused on a babynapping. Individually when I consider the plot elements, they don't seem too unbelievable (especially given that Sol is an impulsive teenager and what teenager doesn't do at least one stupid thing in her lifetime?), but when I put them all together, maybe it is the novelty that I had a hard time dealing with. But there are lots of plot twists and this book definitely kept my attention with all the tension. It's a rare book that alternates between flashbacks and the present in a way that manages not only to keep the tension high but also furthers world/plot/character/etc. development.

5. (+/-) Premise - I knew what the premise was going into this, and I stick by what I said on the world-building and Fama's details. But, I think this is like my issue with the plot. I don't think I could buy into the explanation given for the world because I didn't get the impression that this divide was especially effective, as it had claimed to be. I understand that's part of the point - and this is a dystopia, there are people fighting against the divide taking that very stance - but it felt like too much of a balance between metaphor for class/race differences and actually fitting the explanation given (for example, in college I had classes at night; are those moved to day now too? how can you physically fit all the educational options into day/night divides? why does (most of) the rest of the world follow the US's model when they don't have the same social systems? do they also censor texts? etc.).

6. (+) Themes - I particularly loved how well Plus One incorporated its metaphor for civil liberties (particularly all the people Fama cited in the acknowledgements for Hastings's speech! Loved knowing about the influences there). I loved how she discussed privilege and the class differences and the way all of that tied into the character decisions. And you know how some YA books don't particularly seem YA? Like what the protagonist's arc doesn't feel relevant to a teen? This felt solidly YA as Sol learned to balance between what was most important to her and what was right; as she learned of love, loss, and sacrifice, and more about her own family, her world, and her principles.

7. (+) Characters - This is a random segment, but I loved how Fama included French into this novel. French is an integral part of Sol's relationship with Poppu and Ciel; and also later with D'Arcy. The US is a nation of immigrants. My family has always spoken Arabic and English, and it's quite shocking to me how so few YA novels incorporate this little detail into familial depictions. (Also nerd me was happy that I still knew some French... and knew just how well Fama had captured the nuances in the language). Anyway, Ciel's depiction from larger-than-life icon to fallen hero to brother again was wonderful and so realistic to real life: when everyone starts to have their own lives and responsibilities and where-did-time-ago? Sol's relationship with her grandfather was also heart-breaking. I loved the contrast between her family and D'Arcy's. The characters reached that place where they had a lot of potential and though I didn't know everything about them, I felt like they were real and their motives tangible.

8. (+) Writing - I want to read more of Fama's work. There's a certain smoothness and flow to her writing... and the descriptions are quite gorgeous, especially when it comes to life truths (“The thing is, when you’re with someone like Poppu - someone who sees straight through your battered facade and loves every bit of you, someone who makes you laugh until you pee your pants, someone who grabs you in a hug exactly when you need it - you don’t crave any kind of approval from strangers. You don’t need to 'matter' in the world, because you already matter to the only person who counts.”)

9. (+) Pacing - I already mentioned how well the intertwining of past and present was done, and that's because Fama keeps her past segments short so that we're focused on the action in the present. (And also ends chapters with quite the cliffhangers).

10. (+) Cover - I still really love this cover, the simplicity of its colors and its beautiful depiction of the romance (although this cover made me think of an issue I had: how is it that people can differentiate between Rays and Smudges to begin with? Besides passes & the phones - at birth, can the entire system be taken down if the Day/Night nursery divides aren't followed?).

As a standalone dystopian adventure (set in Chicago), Plus One distinguishes itself because its plot doesn't go for the stretched out epic trilogy sorts of ramifications but stays localized to one girl and one guy and their families. There are political machinations, moral implications, and some twisty reveals, but in the end, you're not distracted by how one sixteen-year-old manages to be the face of a revolution. It's also a beautifully written, romantic and thought provoking novel, and I hope that it attracts the audience it deserves.

42 comments:

  1. Everything about this book interests me, the world in which the characters live, the nature of the characters, the love story, etc. Also, how beautiful is that cover? Just wow! It just sounds amazing! Thanks for the post and giveaway :)

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  2. Well, I love the sound of the characters, the world-building, and the romance. I guess I'll just have to go with the plot and not over-think it and I'm sure I'll enjoy it. The civil liberties aspect also piques my interest. And it's a stand-alone!!!!! ~Pam

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    1. I'm a victim of over-thinking nearly everything in life lol so that is a good strategy on your part. I'm sure you would enjoy the book better that way!

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  3. The cover that shows the difference between light and dark, the theme and the kiss of the two. I love covers that extract such emotion!

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  4. That it kind of reminds me of the movie LadyHawke minus the animals... unless of course there happens to be animals. :)

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  5. I think the premise of this book sounds very unique and intriguing ;) Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I'm absolutely fascinated that the population is divided into day and night, and am really wondering how the authority has put these notions into place. Also, that cover is GORGEOUS!

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  7. Whoaa!! Look at that :D someone is back to reviewing in +/- form :D me likes. I'm so glad that you loved Sol since some of my other blogging friends didn't thanks to some of the actions she took. However, I've heard so many great things about world building and I'm glad you enjoyed that part of the aspect. Oooh, I love haters to lovers storylines. Gimme :) I'm glad that the French aspect touched you personally. I know how hard it is for you and your family based on the things you've shared on your blog so it really makes me glad that you enjoyed this part of the story :) Btw, the writing kind of reminds me of Maggie Stiefvater so that's most def a plus in my eyes and in yours (clearly based on the +) since we both love her writing so much :) I'm so happy that you enjoyed this and btw, I had no idea that this was a standalone dystopian :O Yay for standalones! Also, thanks for the giveaway, you! <3

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    1. Hahaha, I'm such a mix when it comes to reviews. If I have enough to say, I'll do the +/-. Anddd Sol does make some really impulsive, ehhhh decisions, but it felt very realistic to her character and situation so. Don't necessarily agree with them, but still like her. Oh, how interesting! I don't know that I would've thought of Maggie's writing, but I hope you really, really enjoy the book, Siiri :D.

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  8. I think the world building is going to be amazing and looking forward to see how the romance plays out. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  9. The world building and that beautiful cover definitely caught my eye!! Sounds like an awesome read!!!

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  10. This book sounds so, so amazing, can't wait to get my hands on a copy. :) First of all, I've heard great things form people who have already read and loved it.
    Book is set in an alternate future that I always found incredibly interesting and fascinating, That alone and a gorgeous cover are perfectly enough for me to want to read this one as soon as possible.
    Thanks for a chance to win it! :)

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  11. I like the whole day/night premise and I want to read on how the author played on that idea.

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  12. I like the whole day and night idea and how the character fall in love even though they come from very different places. Also the cover is amazing!!!!

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  13. It’s such an original concept, and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about PLUS ONE. Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

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  14. The way the society is set up intrigues me Plus I'm a sucked for forbidden romance.

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  15. I wanted to read this book ever since I read the blurb a couple of months ago. Then the cover came out. Whoever designed it is a genius.

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  16. I like fiery, passionate characters :) The world-building sounds good and interesting. I'm happy to hear that we get a lot of details and explanations. This is where a lot of books lose points on my rating, so it's good to hear you liked it!

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  17. I'm so on the fence about this book. I'm really curious to try this author since it seems like she writes books I'd like and appreciate. I get the "cut above" vibe from her stuff for some reason. I also like the idea of the characters and romance. Also, LOVE that quote you included about mattering to one person. SO true and important.

    But, the plot. I'm not sold yet. I'm so gun-shy about dystopians and I'm not convinced of the world in this one. I'm interested that the plot areas were the two points where you gave +/-'s, so I'm still wary but at least hopefully that, while those parts were not 100% strong, you were still able to enjoy the book overall.

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    1. Yes. I get the same feeling from her work too. There seem to be a lot of people who found the plot & premise quite engaging, so I might be in the minority there... but I can definitely say that it is still enjoyable even with me not entirely sold on the plot areas. I hope you enjoy the book if you choose to try it! If you're not sold on it, I still heard lots of good stuff about Monstrous Beauty, and will probably try that myself sometime in the future as well.

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  18. I've wanted to read Plus One since I heard about it!
    It sounds amazing!
    The cover is beautiful too!

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  19. Well I'd be lying if I didn't say the cover intrigued me! There is something about the colours I think that just drew me when I first saw it a while back :)

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  20. Okay, you sold me. (By the way, you speak Arabic? Why did I not know this? That's awesome! It's one of my top languages to learn.) Anyhoo, I was a little worried this book would be an uber-romance from the cover, but yours is the second review now that says how nuanced it is. I'm excited most for the worldbuilding, I think. I always wonder what's happening outside of the little US communities; it's refreshing for an author to deal with those intricacies. Plus, gotta love a well done friendship-turned-romance.

    C.J.
    Sarcasm & Lemons

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    1. Haha, yes, sort of. I understand more Lebanese Arabic than I speak. It is a romance, but there are a lot of other things going on too. It's like... Cruel Beauty in a way. The romance is heavily featured there, but that's for a very specific purpose. :)

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  21. (This is Darith L)

    I am sold on the premise! It sounds very unique! Reading your review allows me to understand that I need to read this book! I love me some dystopian-esque novels! :D

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  22. Lovely cover! The review sounds intriguing! Would love to read it!

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  23. Probably the cover. It's absolutely lovely.

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  24. Just... wow! The cover is absolutely stunning! Your likes/dislikes intrigued me as did the summery of the book. It sounds incredibly unique and I would love to get my hands on it!

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  26. I have to admit, what intrigues me about this book is mainly the author. Monstrous Beauty was out-of-this-world amazing, and when i saw that she had another book, I was all over it. So, it is a bit of an author crush.

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    1. You also liked Monstrous Beauty? AHHH Clearly I need to get on reading her other work :D. I hope you enjoy Plus One too!

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  27. The cover is gorgeous and I've heard such great things about it!
    -Scott Reads It

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  28. You mentioned this book to me some time ago and it intrigued me immediately. I love the day/night aspect and how it affects the characters' relationships. Also, things like kidnappings really grab me.

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  29. Dystopia is my fave genre and therefore I'm really curious about it. I have seen some really good reviews for it and your review is great too. Besides it's a stand-alone! Great review and thanks for the giveaway :)

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  30. I have heard so many mixed things about this book. But this one sounds really cool and I definitely want to read this sometime soon. And the COVER. Let's just look at the cover. It's gorgeous! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I'm also glad how this is a stand-alone. I'm not really in the mood for any series. :) Thanks for the giveaway and I loved reading the review!

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  31. Wow. Where to start? I love the concept of having day and night people and it looks like it would make the book very interesting. Also, all the reviews have been amazing and I really would want to read it:)

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  32. The fact that the doomed lovers live in opposites time schedules and they have to fight against law and fate to be together :-)

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  33. Star-crossed lovers grabs your attention right away! It sounds like an adventure and I'm eager to see how it turns out.

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  34. I've heard some very good reviews for this one, but standalone dystopian sort of sells the book in itself for me! I love dystopian books but I have enough series pending to finish or that I want to read, so a standalone is brilliant for me!
    And that cover is also quite alluring!

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  35. I love the cover, but even more I love what you said about the heroine, how she's the kind of person that people have underestimated, I always enjoy it when an underdog surpasses other people's expectations of them.

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  36. I like the intrigue of the human-like representations of the day and night

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