Title: Plus One
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: YA - Dystopia
It takes guts to deliberately mutilate your hand while operating a blister-pack sealing machine, but all I had going for me was guts.
Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol deliberately injures herself in order to gain admission to a hospital, where she plans to kidnap her newborn niece—a Ray—in order to bring the baby to visit her dying grandfather. By violating the day-night curfew, Sol is committing a serious crime, and when the kidnap attempt goes awry it starts a chain of events that will put Sol in mortal danger, uncover a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population, and throw her together with D'Arcy Benoît, the Ray medical apprentice who first treats her, then helps her outrun the authorities—and with whom she is fated to fall impossibly and irrevocably in love.
Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights—and a compelling, rapid-fire romantic adventure story.
I have to say, after years of loyal devotion to the genre, I've realized I'm sick to death of dystopian fiction. I don't know if it is due to the fact that I've binge-read a lot of it or because dystopian books really have become repetitive, but they all seem to blur together, until I wonder if Cassia was Divergent or Tally got matched with Ky or maybe Thomas participated in the Hunger Games?!
Plus One made me realize all of this, precisely because it's not your typical dystopian book. Yes, there is politics, government corruption, outcasts, persecution and discrimination against one social class (because if you think of it, it's obvious that people who live during the day will be more productive than those who live during the night, because biologically the human body is "programmed" to sleep during the night). BUT Sol is not a heroine, she's not the chosen one with special abilities, she doesn't fight or shoot and she doesn't want to free herself from her Smudge restrictions. She just wants her Poppu to hold his grand-daughter before he dies. It took me some time to warm up to Sol, mostly because she's my exact opposite. I don't think I could be so selfless, and each time Sol was cynic, I kept hoping for a happy ending. However, once I understood more about her motives and past, I felt I could relate more to her, although some times she was infuriating, because she was so willing to sacrifice her future!
D'Arcy, on the other hand, was so easy to love! He seemed privileged, but we soon learned that his family was destroyed by the Ray/Smudge divide since his mother had been reassigned to Day. Since the story took place during a few days, I can understand why Sol and D'Arcy went from 0 to 300 in no time, but all the same it felt too rushed in some points, especially after the twist (which isn't actually a twist and I saw coming a mile away).
This is basically the same problem I had with the plot. It felt like riding a roller-coaster: some things were rushed and then there was a lull where they went to the national park or slept, followed by other action and then the tension dissipated again for a couple of chapters. I was fine with this rhythm because I prefer books focused on the development of the characters rather than action, but I can see how it can be off-putting for reader who love action-packed scenes. Also, the book ended quite abruptly and not how I would have wanted it to finish, though it was more realistic than those of other dystopian books.
Overall, although the plot felt choppy at times, I would recommend this book to everyone who is tired of dystopian literature but doesn't want to let go of it just yet!