- Reading level: Ages 13 and up
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (October 4, 2011)
Where do you go when nowhere is safe?
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
This book was a quick but extremely moving read for me. I devoured it in one sitting, drawn into the world drawn up around Eve. It absolutely makes you think and try to sift through the truth and lies being fed to Eve, and at moments you find yourself with tears in your eyes at the situations that so many desperate people are being put through. Miss Carey seems like a very skilled stonemason, lying the base for what I anticipate to be two more amazing books.
The action in this book takes off right away, and you find yourself extremely curious as to what has happened to the world to make it the way it is. A plague has come and gone, leaving thousands orphaned, a self-declared King is feeding lies to thousands, and while young orphan boys are going to work camps and die under loads to large to carry, girls are going to school to become "leaders" only to have their dreams snatched away from them and be sent to baby-factories.
Eve is one of my favorite Heroines. In this book, you see a tremendous growth in her. At first, she is an uptight know-it-all that makes you want to scream. But once she becomes acquainted with the way things truly are in the world, she becomes so much more. She makes bad mistakes, which only makes her seem more real. She has to watch as people she loves die, and she has to learn to face cold, brutal truth. She has to learn that most things she has been taught are lies.
While Eve is very well developed, I wish there had been a bit more the the others. I would have liked to know more about Arden, the girl who told Eve the truth about where she was going to be sent after school. I would have liked to hear more of her voice in the book, or know more of her back story. She is a truly intriguing character.
My most and least favorite part of the book was the end. I probably just sat there for about ten minutes crying. I won't spoil it for you, though. Overall, this book has an amazing story, characters, and plot. I will definitely be getting hold of Once, the sequel, as soon as possible. I recommend reading this at night, and if you can wait that long, read it on a warm summer night! I wish I would have.