Monday, July 9, 2012

Once, by Anna Carey

- Eve #2
Release date: July 3rd 2012
Published by: Harper Collins
Genre: Dystopia (YA)
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

*This review will probably have spoilers of the first book in the trilogy, Eve.

When you're being hunted, who can you trust?

For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.

But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.

Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.

I read Eve last year, a couple of months after it was released in the USA, and though it was an enjoyable story, I didn't quite love it. Anna Carey tried to captivate me with her characters, especially Eve, but it just didn't work. It took me four days to finish it, and that rarely happens. However, Once captivated me in ways I can't explain. 

I should start with Eve, of course, since she's the main character. In Eve, I hated her, to be honest. She was so naive, so innocent and reckless that it infuriated me. Her actions hurt so many people, mostly friends and allies, throughout the novel, that it was hard to sympathize with her decisions. In Once, though, she was a different person altogether. It's crystal-clear how what happened to her in the wilds affected her, and that really shows in the way she speaks, how she cares for her friends in a deeper way, and how she stands for what she thinks it's right. I actually grew fond of Eve, and I was surprised to see that by the end of the novel, I wanted her to succeed.

The romance is also developed. In Eve, I had a feeling that part of Caleb and Eve's relationship was pure insta-love, but in Once, that changed. As much as I loved Caleb, I started to see him in a different way, just like Eve did. Instead of thinking about how hot he was, Eve thought about how he held her, how he understood her, how they talked about so many things that would've been weird with someone else, but that just felt right with Caleb. I loved this aspect of their relationship, and I think the fact that they're together relying not on lust, but on comfort and love (and that they show this affection with a touch, a conversation, and a kiss, and not only on make-out sessions), says a lot about how much Anna Carey changed the romance, and how this enhanced the feeling that Once really is a sequel to Eve. 

As always, Anna Carey's secondary characters are enchanting, each one looking just as real and solid as Eve. Her writing flows really well, even with the slow-paced scenes, and that's part of my liking Once. Not all of it was action, and Anna's writing held the plot together as weeks passed around Eve, and nothing new happened. I was never bored while reading Once. Also, I felt like the world-building was a lot more solid in this installment. With Eve growing up and becoming a mature woman, she gave us a new perspective of what was happening in the society itself, and while in the first novel, I felt like I was diving in the dark, without knowing where I was going or what to expect, in Once it was like I was just looking through a binocular, simply expanding what was already there.

To say that I liked Once is an understatement. I loved this novel, and I'm glad I picked it up. Without reading a few positive reviews, I'd never feel encouraged enough to buy it and continue this trilogy. Now, however, I'm dying to get my hands on Rise, the last book. Anna Carey proved to be a very talented author.

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