Dear Ms. Howson:
When you sent me your book to read, you said that it was a Young Adult Futuristic Romance. I didn’t need a blurb or anything else since I don’t know if I had ever read a YA Futuristic Romance and was quite intrigued. I really liked your voice, the story, the world, but was disappointed at the development of the romance.
Linnet is a privileged girl who lives in some type of futuristic earth setting. There are two distinct classes of people – those who live above the pollution in the sky and those who live below the pollution on the ground. I really liked the play on the “upper” class and “lower” class concepts giving them both literal and figurative meanings. The wealthy have moved themselves away from the smog because the pollution was killing vegetation, causing impurities in the water, and generating deformities in people.
Linnet’s family has enough money so that they live entirely above. Everything from their schools to the nurseries that grow their food are in the upper areas of the atmosphere. But all of living creates waste and there is no place for the waste to go but downward. Because those that live above do not see the results of their consumption, they are unaware the dangers that are posed living in these towering high rises above the smog.
Linnet, though, has a secret that her family has hidden from others. She is imperfect, a freak really. She has no hair. In order to maintain her appearance of perfection and beauty, she must wear a wig. Unfortunately normal wigs cause her terrible pain and thus her parents have purchased an outrageously expensive wigbot. The wigbot grows hair but it only lasts for a certain amount of time before it becomes brittle. The wigbot requires careful attention. If it is not dialed in correctly, the hair will not be fit to wear. It is Linnet’s responsibility to set the machine each night. Linnet aches at her deformity. It’s a visible sign of some type of failure and Linnet’s mother cannot bear to see her without hair.
One night a winged creature comes to her window. Gecko is from the ground and his wings are man made. He climbs and glides viewing the people and the environment above the smog. He begins to teach Linnet that the world she has been taught of has far more facets than she knows.
Linnet is very appealing. Her realization that her mother’s love is conditional is heartbreaking, particularly when she strives each day to live up to her mother’s expectations. Gecko was also appealing but a little less fleshed out. I think I would have liked to have seen more of the life below that Gecko hinted at.
The socially conscious motifs of the story were well done as was the world building. I liked that the fantasy aspects served to drive both the internal and external conflicts rather than exist as merely a background set piece.
The areas that were the weakest I attributed to the length of the story. Linnet was the only fully dimensional character for me. Given the role that the mother played, I would have liked to have seen more backstory on why she was monstrous. Also because of the length of the story, the romance was given short shrift. I never really felt that Gecko loved Linnet but instead thought she was beautiful. I also wondered why he spent so much time exploring the upper world because I felt it contradicted his assertion that life on the ground was better than the life in the air.
Having said that, your voice is one that I really enjoyed and I thought the story was quite imaginative. I would look forward to a full length story from you. B-
This book can be purchased in e form from Drolliere Press for $1.99. As a PS, I am really impressed with the quality of the two Drollerie Press books I’ve read. I think that they are edited well, have great covers and good prices. I hope more readers check them out. More on that tomorrow.