Author: Emma Pass
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Series: N/A Standalone
Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication: March 11, 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: I received a review copy (arc) from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong's world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna's violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary.
When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn't know who to trust?
Even though the Dystopian genre is so over saturated, with every other book becoming similar or identical…I still find myself picking one up anyways. Two things are guaranteed when you read a Young Adult Dystopian; there will be a kick butt protagonist and loads of action. Not surprising I picked up Acid. The cover alone promises what I just said! But what really caught my attention with this book was the synopsis…a seventeen year old girl in an all male prison. What?! I immediately requested this book from the publisher, and was happily obliged when it showed up in the mail.
Acid started off with a bang as readers are introduced to Jenna Strong, a seventeen-year-old, who was charged with the murder of her parents. I love a kick butt heroine as much as the next reader, and was excited to see Jenna take down nasty and perverted inmates 2-3 times her size. She even had all these crazy wicked moves that can drop a person on their butt before they know what hit them! I was pretty impressed but at the same time not totally convince. While I read it in the synopsis and even when I started reading Acid, I had a hard time picturing a girl in an all male prison. It wasn’t believable, because realistically that would never happen. But plausibility aside, it didn’t matter much as Jenna gets broken out of jail a couple chapters in.
After Jenna’s prison break she goes on and gets three different identities. I liked Jenna for the most part, she definitely the epitome of a dystopian female lead and with each new identity she never once lost that strong-dangerous vibe (well maybe except when she was Jess briefly). The only thing that bothered me was Jenna’s recklessness in the last few chapters. She pulled a YA trope. She put not only her life in danger over a single boy who she barely knows (also apparently loves); but also the FREE (A group of activists that want to bring down the corruption and its Acid leader Harvey) team and the hundreds of prisoners. For someone who is so smart, especially when she was able to evade Acid countless of times; she sure isn’t thinking clearly when it comes to Max. The other secondary characters like Max, Jon, Mel, or even Jacob all had about equal amount of page time but I never got a feel for their characters. They weren’t fully developed and were nothing but a back drop to Jenna’s story. They definitely helped move the story along but never made much of an impression.
The world building is the weakest part of the book. Like the secondary characters, I didn’t think the world was fully realized or developed. Things were told but never fully explained, which made the futuristic U.K. and the Acid totalitarian government society far-fetched. For example, people are Life Partnered at a young age (arranged marriages), and are assigned a place to live, a job and whether or not they’re allowed to have a baby or not. There was never a reason given why this is so (well if there was a reason, I definitely don’t recall reading it). The author also never went into detail as to how Acid came into power and how they overthrew IRB (Independent Republic of Britain). Even the NAR terrorists group didn’t make sense. We meet them midway during the book and are told of one of their plans to attack Acid but again no details except they hate Acid and want to overthrow them (just like FREE, but violent).
Overall Acid was a good book, but because of the underdeveloped world building it fell short of becoming what it could have been; an incredible dystopian. The pacing of the novel could have also used some work, the book started out strong but quickly lost momentum midway; picking up sporadically till the end. I mentioned the poor world building, but it isn’t to say that Ms. Pass can’t write because she definitely can. I thought the book was well written and am looking forward to seeing more of her work. This is the author’s first book, so I know everything isn’t going to be perfect. If you enjoy reading Dystopains, and aren’t too burned out I’d say give this book a try…you might like it more than me.