Well this was an unexpected surprise. 2014 has started off by being a disappointing reading year for me thus far, but Uninvited by Sophie Jordan turned it all around. Most of my friends have been meh about this, but I am trying this new thing this year where I throw it all out the window before I read a book. No expectations, no remembering previous updates, and it worked for me this time. I wouldn't say this book was brilliant, but what it lacked in originality and gorgeous prose, it made up for by being compulsively readable and compelling. Seriously, I freaking loved the storyline.
Davy is a teenage girl from an upper-middle class family. She goes to a private school and is pretty much the apple in her parents' eye--that is until it is found out that she tested positive for HTS, the kill gene. She is kicked out of school, her friends and boyfriend ditch her, and her life falls completely apart. This is a completely prejudiced world she is living in--she becomes a minority and is treated like complete garbage by almost everyone around her, but she finds a certain camaraderie with other carriers of HTS. This is where she meets Sean, and can I say how much I loved him?. I loved Davy too, but wow, Sean was an amazing character. Thing is, I don't usually fall for the romance in YA novels, but Bekka really loved it (and in Sophie Jordan novels in general), and I TOTALLY agree with her. This book might lack in the world-building department, but the slow burn of the relationship, the development of the romantic tension, it totally works because it is not rushed, and when they finally get together, the waiting the author makes you do is totally worth it.
I also just found it really suspenseful, and I fell in love with the story. For me, the ideas in this book (and the way society would react to it) were wholly believable. It was terrifying, unsettling, and I truly felt Davy's desperation. This book really bothered me and there were moments I wanted to put it down and take a breather. It's not often for me where books affect me to the point of anxiety, and I didn't find it enjoyable when that happened, but at the same time, I have to reward it for the emotions it made me feel. The writing in the book is not anything special but the character development is because I was so scared for Davy and her friends.
There are a few things I would have preferred to see done differently though, and those are:
The ending was too abrupt. I wanted more of a conclusion. It didn't really end in a cliffhanger either, it just kind of...stopped, and those are my least favorite endings. You stop in the middle of the action, and for what? Couldn't this have just been a standalone? This is one thing that kept it perfect for me.
I wanted the protagonist to be more of a fighter. Now don't get me wrong, there were times when she was a badass. But I also feel she depended too much on the guys around her. It was a decent balance, but at the same time, I can't stand when women need to be rescued. It is a way of building romance, and I get it, but I wish there were other ways to do this.
That said, if those are the only criticisms I have, that's not very much, is it? I know there were some critiques on the world building, and yes, it is kind of light but it completely worked for me. The explanation was simple enough, and I didn't really need more. It was easy for me to believe that there could be a gene responsible for people turning into violent killers. And I didn't want the plot bogged down by a whole lot of dry science that would slow down the pacing, because whoa that story was something. It does take a little bit for things to get moving, and the first part of the story is largely character driven but I liked that about it. This is a book that really pulled me into the story and the world fell away for a while. My favorite kind.