Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Source: Received from the author as part of the Traced review tour.
Status: First in the Outlier Chronicles, to be followed by Recruited, which will be published this month.
Genre: Teen Science Fiction/Dystopian
Other Info: I participated in the Traced tour. Author Megan Squires shared her Bibliobiography with us–there’s a giveaway, too!
Description and link from Goodreads):
Tessa can’t sleep.
But when your parents are dead and the government directs your path in life, sleep shouldn’t come easily. Lately, Tessa’s fitful nights are growing even more predictable, almost like déjà vu. And she’s beginning to think that something greater is at work—something her society has taken drastic measures to keep hidden.
Caught between self-discovery and government conformity, she’ll have to choose either the boy who can help her reveal this new truth or the one that can provide her with the security of familiarity.
Tessa’s faced with a weighty decision. And she’s going to need more than a good night’s sleep to make it.
I would imagine that, as a writer, the hardest thing must be to come up with a unique premise. Well, okay, there are probably several hardest things about being a writer. The point is, though, that when your genre is insanely popular–as Dystopians these days–it’s hard to make your own stand out. As a reader, I’m at the point where I’m pretty much over totalitarian government Dystopias and this, I think is one of the main places where Traced and I had our greatest problem.
As I see it, Traced had four main issues: One, there was too much telling and not enough showing. Several times I had to remind myself that there were stakes involved. Megan Squires told us that The Hub (Traced‘s totalitarian government) controlled everything–in fact, there are several conversations about it–but I never felt that she showed it to us. It’s difficult to generate fear of a government based solely on character say-so. More crucially, however, there’s little-to-no information about why the Dystopia came about. Writers of Dystopians often overlook this and thereby drive me nuts.
Two: The love triangle sucks. Besides feeling that they entirely too dichotomous,I couldn’t muster up much enthusiasm about either of the boys vying for Tess’ affections. I knew that I definitely hated one of them after he backhanded a chicken across a chicken coup. Not cool. I don’t care if the hen hurt the heroine–it’s an effing chicken. You do not smack them across rooms. End. Of. Story. Tess’ indecision between the two boys did not add up to a compelling dilemma. On the contrary, they made me dislike her intensely. Tess’ lack of honesty with herself, with her family and with the two boys was, frankly, detestable. So, I guess issue 2 1/2 is: I hated the main character.
Three: It’s not believable. A government that bans watches? Um…yeah, you’re going to have to convince me real hard on that one. First you’d have to make me believe that a totalitarian government would do such a thing and then you’re going to have to convince me that they’d be able to enforce it. And your argument better be pretty darn convincing.
Four: I’ve finished the book and I still don’t get what tracing is. Or how Joel (one of the love interests) is able to figure out that it’s going on with Tess based on a vague childhood memory. Or how she’s supposed to understand her “gift.” Or use it. Or possibly interpret it. Or…anything except go, “Huh?” Which is what I did upon reaching the last page.
I’m not even going to go into the ending, which made as little sense to me as the rest of the book. Suffice it to say: skip this one.
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