16-year-old Evelyn lives underwater in a place called Elysium, with large glass domes separating her from the Atlantic Ocean. She is the ‘daughter of the people’ – the adopted daughter of the woman who governs Elysium, known as ‘Mother’) and her job is to breed, due to her perfect genetics.
She’s been sixteen for 3 months already, and she still hasn’t picked a suitor to ‘couple’ with, and her mother is getting impatient.
One day whilst tending to her garden, Evelyn hears alarms going off – it seems that a ‘surface dweller’ has somehow made it into Elysium.
Evelyn has a fascination with the world on the surface, and likes to collect artefacts from the surface that have made their way into Elysium, so she can’t help but try to help the strange boy who has somehow made it through from the surface, and hidden himself in her garden.
Unfortunately, Gavin is caught by the guard and thrown into the detainment centre. Evie cares for him, and tends his wounds, but not without disapproval from her mother and it is only as Evie learns more about Gavin that she also learns more about herself. It seems that ‘Mother’ has been using a type of ‘conditioning’ to keep Evie in line, and Evie realises that her problems with her memory are more to do with her sessions with her ‘therapist’ than with an actual physical/mental problem.
Why does ‘Mother’ use conditioning? What else does she use it for? What else is she hiding from Evie? What has Evie forgotten? And does Evie stand any chance of saving Gavin from execution?
I loved this book. There was no shortage of action right the way through, and the twists and turns just kept being thrown at Evie and Gavin, so that no matter what plan they tried next or how they hoped to outsmart ‘Mother’, she foiled them time and time again.
Evie was such a great heroine. She kept fighting for what she believed to be right, no matter how many obstacles stood in her way, and she constantly kept thinking of new plans not only to help herself, but even to benefit the residents of Elysium. She was so selfless, and so genuine, I just couldn’t help but love her.
I both loved and hated the way ‘Mother’ had used ‘conditioning’, or as Gavin put it – Brainwashing, to train her enforcers and Evelyn. It was so creepy, but effective, and I felt so sorry for Evelyn as she realised that the things that she was saying were not her own ideas, and when it seemed that her ‘training’ was actually working against her. It was so difficult for her to know what was going on when it seemed that her brain had been programmed to work against her!
The world building within Elysium was well thought out, with such simple but effective ideas that worked so well as a whole. The idea of living underwater was also well thought out, and there were plenty of issues that had been solved scientifically and believably. There was also mention given to certain sicknesses caused by living at such high pressures, and also how these problems had been overcome.
I loved the storyline, there were just so many twists and turns that you had no idea what was coming next, and even when it got a bit ‘resident evil’ scary at the end I couldn’t put it down!
Overall; a beautiful, exciting, and creepy dystopian novel; and I can’t wait for the next instalment!
9 out of 10.