Author: Lorraine Thomson
Personal Context: NetGalley provided me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Initial Thoughts: The quote included in the synopsis (see below) is what really made me hit the request button.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“She thought she knew who she was and where she came from.Then her home was destroyed. Her brother lost amongst the ashes. And the boy she loves vanished. She owed her own survival to a mutant — the very forces behind the destruction. Now Sorrel will never be the same again.”
There is no “Before”, there is only “Now”. Because now there’s no internet, no TV, no power grid. Food is scarce, and the world’s a hostile place. But Sorrel lives a quiet life in the tiny settlement of Amat. It’s all she’s ever known …
Until a gang of marauding mutants destroys the village, snatching her brother Eli, and David, her boyfriend. Sorrel sets out after them, embarking on a journey fraught with danger. Can she survive? The only thing that keeps her going is Eli and David. They are out there somewhere. They must be alive. And if she has her way, she will find them.
My Review of…
…The Plot and Pace:
I think that the plot of this story is good, in theory, but poor in execution. I can’t really go into much detail or explanation with spoilers, but I will do my best. So at its core, The New Dark is a dystopian novel. It felt to me that it was attempting to be reminiscent of other famous dystopian stories like 1984, The Hunger Games, The Stand, Brave New World, etc. Unfortunately, it felt more like it was trying to be too many things at one time. The thing that made each of the aforementioned titles great is that they were wholeheartedly individual and unique. Because The New Dark was trying to do too many things at once, it ended up only doing each thing halfway. Consequently, it felt disjointed. Obviously, this is just my opinion, so excuse my brashness.
…The Characters and Relationships:
For me, characters are my end-all-be-all of any book. I can read a plotless nightmare, but if I can relate to the characters and invest myself in their narrative, I couldn’t care less about anything else. Unfortunately for The New Dark, I didn’t like the main character. She felt terribly flat and unidimensional for the majority of the story, and so I found myself having a really difficult time relating to her. I found myself relating more to her at the end of the story, however, and I am pleased with her character development over the course of the story. This story was clearly just the first in a series, and so perhaps it will get better.
…The Writing Style and Mechanics:
The writing style felt very juvenile and simple, which is common in YA books. This definitely felt more like a middle-grade book, at least in terms of writing style, but the plot itself was more adult than a typical, middle-grade book. This made the novel much more complicated in my opinion and only added to the impression of it being disjointed.
…The Message(s) and Theme(s):
Overcoming prejudice is a major theme throughout this story. Sorrell’s village was obliterated, her family slaughtered and kidnapped by mutants, and yet she finds companionship in a mutant named Einstein. She held only animosity and distrust in him at first but comes to recognize him as a friend and confidante. It was heart-warming to see given the current global climate.
The New Dark is a confusing story. Combining elements from many other great dystopian works, it felt disjointed to me. As is expected in a jack-of-all-trades situation, this story was a master of none, and that made me struggle. The author goes to great lengths to make it clear that she believes in the syllogism that all elephants are gray, but not all gray things are elephants. As I have come to expect from other middle-grade level books, the theme is obvious and there is little nuance in the story. The message of the story is an important one, the idea that prejudice is a plague on society is something that is particularly relevant in our current global climate. Sorrell’s character development was definitely redemptive, and I hope it continues in the next installment of the story.
Have any thoughts or feelings on my review? Let me know in the comments!