I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on April 8, 2014
Genres: Alternate Reality, Political Drama, Romance
Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.
Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.
Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.
In an alternate reality following the 1918 flu pandemic, Soleil Le Coeur concocts a desperate plan to kidnap her newborn niece so that her grandfather is able to hold her one last time before he dies. Her plan goes foul when she finds herself embroiled in a political feud between opposing Night and Day groups.
When the 1918 flu epidemic began wreaking havoc on the population, the President divided the medical teams into day and night to keep up with the work required. The results were so positive that this divide between day and night was applied to the rest of society. Because the amount of people awake during the day were cut in half, public transportation was less crowded and ended up decelerating the spread of the disease. The divide continued even after the flu epidemic had been dealt with. I really loved the setting of this world because while it was simple it was explained well and felt incredibly realistic.
Plus One is told from the point of view of Soleil, a fantastic character that I loved from the very first page. She’s impulsive and snarky and will do anything for her Poppu, the only family she has left. It’s commendable, even with the ridiculous scheme she comes up with. We’re given flashback scenes throughout the novel that tells the tale of her past and how she’s come to be alone with her grandfather and that makes her actions all the more poignant.
“I didn’t mind going straight to nothing a few days earlier, so that Poppu could hold his great-granddaughter before he died.”
I understood her intentions, but I felt the kidnapping of the baby was completely nonsensical. It was also too flimsy of a storyline to be the entirety of the plot. Her ability to steal the baby initially and her continued evasion of the government was pretty implausible as well. This ended up being much more of a political drama/soap-opera than I anticipated and was very disappointed by this.
It’s kind of funny but I find myself typically complaining about the romances in stories and how they seem to overtake the plot. With Plus One it happens to be the complete opposite where I’m complaining about the lack of romance/swoons but I think this is because I went into this story expecting a ‘star-crossed‘ love, plus just look at the cover I mean come on. Soleil and D’Arcy dislike each other at first and use nicknames to identify one another (She is Plus One and he is Day Boy) which quickly became tiresome. It’s a case of opposites attract but the actual romance doesn’t happen until very late in the book. The two possess a connection (that isn’t realized until later) which prevents their romance from veering too far into insta-love territory but that connection still failed to generate the swoons I was looking for. Their relationship does get serious fairly quickly though and there were a few lines that caused much consternation.
‘D’Arcy was like a planet to my meteor. The gravitational pull was similar to a hurtling sensation. My body needed to collide with his. And, the universe be praised, this planet welcomed the impact.’
‘He drank from it and handed it back. I rested my lips on the rim of the bottle before I drank, trying to differentiate between the warm wetness of the water and the warm wetness of his mouth, disappointed that I couldn’t.’
There was one particularly violent scene that had me completely flummoxed as to it’s reason for being a part of the story. I suppose violence doesn’t always have to possess a meaning but it felt out of place and gratuitous in regards to the rest of the story. Overall this was a very mature YA read and I was shocked yet impressed to see sex portrayed so openly.
Admittedly, the cover is the sole reason I read this. That gorgeous cover promised swoons and all the feels yet the book itself never lived up to it. The ending is left open-ended but possesses an impressive and unexpected resolution that was my favorite aspect of the novel. Plus One was an enjoyable read for the most part but I was definitely expecting more.