The Roar by Emma Clayton
My absolutely lovely school librarian (people whom I believe have a special place in heaven) always has new books to share with me. The Roar was one such book. I usually try my darndest to read an awful lot, not just because I like reading, but also for my writing and to be able to recommend books to my students. So, since my librarian hadn't read this one, I told her that I'd read it and get back to her. My report.... not so good.
In a super simple version of the plot, so as not to give away what little spoilers there are: Mika and his twin Ellie live in a dystopian near future. Due to an animal plague, the entire population of the planet has been moved behind The Wall that rings the top of the globe. Ouside the wall, the Earth is decimated from all of the chemicles that had to be used to kill all the animal and vegetative life and irradicate the plague. Inside the wall, society is highly stratified- literally. The richest live at the tops of the cities in the Golden Towers, while the poor live underneath those towers in The Shadows. The story opens with Ellie trying to escape from bad guy Mal (yes, bad = mal... thank you Clayton).She has been thought dead by her family for over a year, and is trying to get back to them. She dosen't succeed. Meanwhile, Mika and his parents live in the bad part of the city and while his parents have already grieved Ellie's death, Mika is sure that she is still alive. We go back and forth between the Mal/Ellie perspective and Mika's perspective throughout the book. Mika and his fellow classmates are all enrolled in the Fit for Life program, meant to get them healthy and bolster their measly "fab food" which is really just processed mold. Then everyone competes in a video game. The top players keep moving up in the ranks, blah, blah, blah. I'll not spoil what actually happens to the winners, or Ellie and Mika as that's really the ONLY thing that kept me reading this book.
Ugh... so, in a lot of ways, I hated not liking this book. I really, really wanted to like it. It has a male narrator, which is great for my students- mostly boys. The writing is at a pretty easy reading level, so again, great for my students, but I just can't like it, and really can't recommend it to anyone. It was sort of terrible. The pacing of the book dragged on and on. Nothing was ever really explained. I had so many questions that it stopped moving me forward on the quest for answers and just started irritating me. I feel like this was an awful lot of set up that could and should have been cut. The premise is interesting, and I think it could have been really good had the book started about halfway through. I also really didn't like, or believe, this mystic twin connection that Ellie and Mika share. It was lame. Now, granted, I'm not a twin, so I don't know what it's like. For all I know that's how being a twin really is, but I didn't buy it. The point of view was terribly done and jumped around far too much. The characters were pretty flat, especially the supporting cast. And the ending... on the ending. I was so unbelievably disappointed. It just ended. The action started, questions were being answered, I was maybe going to get excited about what was going on in this book... and then, a page later, it ends. Just ends. Terrible. And there wasn't even enough of a hook or cliffhanger for me to feel excited about a potential sequel.
So, overall, I wouldn't recommend wasting your time on this one folks. It breaks my heart to say it, especially being a writer and thinking about someone hating a book I write so much, but still. Not Good. Now... to be fair, Clayton lives and is presumably from England, so maybe... maybe this is just some British thing that I'm really not understanding... like British humor???? I don't know... but I just didn't like it.