2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember. The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.
I absolutely loved the premise of this story. The 1984-esque, Orwellian setting of 2113 London is fascinating, and a little bit scary. Jenna's place in it is at a maximum-security prison - not where our female protagonists usually start out in a dystopian novel! In the first third of the book things move quickly, and I really liked the book. However, once Jenna (also known as Mia at this point), gets caught up with a small rebel group the action slows, the plot drags, and I lost interest. The action and mystery and heart-pounding moments turned to bland description, a lot of "telling" the plot instead of showing, and a serious lack of feeling between any of the characters.
Jenna's struggle to survive, escape ACID, help her new friend Max, and discover the secrets of a violent rebel group keep the plot moving faster and faster. ACID is a brutal organization that controls all of the IBR - what was once the United Kingdom. I liked how intense and scary ACID was. Their absolute military control, the way their agendas escalated so quickly and threatened to tear Jenna's world right out from under here - they were all-powerful and a great antagonistic group. The small grassroots rebel group, NAR, was a nice, and honestly realistic, contrast to the behemoth ACID. However, the FREE group (can't say anything else cause spoilers!) wasn't nearly developed enough until the very last second. I wanted more from them, I wanted detail, I wanted to feel for them and root for them, and the story simply didn't make that happen.
Jenna's being paired up with Max Fisher is a great twist. They budding romance is sweet and honest. It is also dry, lacking passion, and frankly, a little boring. I wanted more between them. I wanted sparks, I wanted them seeing red and falling for each other. All I got was a couple of awkward moments and longing glances. So, the romance was disappointing.
Overall this was a great debut with a lot of promise, but it fell short in the quality writing department. Less description, more emotion, and a lot of problems with telling instead of showing could really have improved the novel. Regardless, I would recommend it for fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, Revolution 19, and other YA sci-fi stories.
ACID, which stands for Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence, is a sinister police force that runs the UK, now renamed the IRB. Their reign is brutal, and they watch everyone and everything. The building of this terrifying world is impressive - set one hundred years in the future in a Big Brother style society. The mystery of Jenna’s past runs throughout the novel and I was always eager to learn more. I really liked the newspaper reports inserted into the book, which give insight into what’s happening away from Jenna. From the beginning, the book hits you with extreme danger, a touch of romance, and exhilarating plot twists that build to a spectacular finish.