This is another of the ARCs I got at BEA this summer. I haven’t read the Birthmarked trilogy by this author, but one of my really good friends has read it and liked it, so I figured I had to get a copy of this when I was at BEA. And actually, I did really enjoy it. The story was really interesting, and there was even a little bit of a twist at the end, that I didn’t really get until probably the very same page when they started to allude to it in the story. I don’t know how satisfied I am with the ending, though. I kind of want more, even though I do get it, and it is a good ending, maybe just not where I wanted it to end.
The main character is Rosie Sinclair. She wants to be a filmmaker. But in this future society, it is very hard to get jobs like this, unless you are chosen to go to the Forge School of the Arts. But getting selected to go to this school is only the first step. It doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to graduate from the school. You see this school is part of a reality tv show. The students are taped all day long, and then after a certain amount of time there is a cut, half of the 100 students will be sent home based on their popularity. Rosie has hovered up in the 90s as she’s kind of kept to herself mostly and just tried to learn all that she can. Then one day she meets a boy named Linus, who is one of the people who work at the school. And while at first he is kind of rude to her, as you normally see the staff treating the ones they think are being treated special, he gives her ideas on how to get her number into the top 50 so that she can stay. She doesn’t want to go home. Her stepfather is a not so great guy. And her mother works all the time to support him and her sister. Going to Forge School is also all that kept her off the path of going to jail. So she starts trying the suggestions that Linus gave her. Beginning with making some friends, Burnham and Janice are the first two. And they even help her try a couple things that increase her standing. One of Linus’s suggestions is to meet him and kiss him. Which she even gives into that in an emotional fit the night of the final numbers.
She makes it through the cuts, but then begins to wonder what is actually going on at this school. They take pills to sleep for 12 straight hours through the night, as it is said they need that rest for all the creative things they do throughout the day. But Rosie misses the night, so she stops taking the pill. And sneaks out of her sleep shell to go see the rain, and to just see the night. But she sees things that make her wonder what is really going on, as well as what she hears. The doctors and dean are doing things called Seeding and Mining, and it happens when the students are asleep. Rosie even notices a spot on her arm where it is obvious there was an IV at some point that she doesn’t remember. As she sets up her project to place cameras around the school in order to look for “ghosts” she is actually searching to find out what is really going on. And she sees things, but then her camera doesn’t seem to have the evidence in the morning. As her friends try to help without knowing maybe what they’re helping with, they also put themselves in danger. The mining has to do with taking their dreams, and the seeding with giving them to other people. But Rosie is unsure from all that she finds if this is a good or bad thing, it just seems if it is kept secret, then it must be sinister.
I liked the storyline, and the way that all of the secrets were found was definitely exciting. We are kept almost guessing throughout the whole book on whether her friends are really doing things to help her, or are they in on the secrets that Rosie if finding. And this includes Linus. At times he seems like a guy who is really in love with her, her only friend. But other times he seems as if maybe he is leading her to some things, and keeping her away from others by the instructions of the Dean. And when one of her friends gets critically injured while helping her, things take a turn for the worse, or maybe it all just keeps adding up and more and more things happen.
Really the story was full of all kinds of exciting things, and lots of points that made you have to keep reading so that you could find out if what Rosie thought was going to turn out to be true, and if it did, was it for the good or the bad. A very interesting dystopian story. I have to say I was left wondering things about when they mined the dreams, and if they would ever be able to use them to do what they’d really hoped would happen some day. Or what the Dean and Dr. Ash say they hope will happen.
|Me with Caragh M. O’Brien|
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