One of the few survivors of a deadly plague that has decimated the Earth, Eve is about to graduate from her isolated all-girl school as class valedictorian. She believes that her future holds great things, but an encounter with a rebellious classmate results in her finding out the truth: that her future, and the future of all of the girls at her school, involves being strapped to a bed and used as a breeding mare to repopulate the planet. Deciding that this is not ideal, Eve escapes with some help from an unlikely source and sets off toward the settlement of Califia, far to the west.
About ten pages into the book, I was fully prepared to loathe Eve. She seemed like exactly the kind of whiny, needy ninny that I absolutely cannot stand. As it turned out, I just ended up feeling really, really bad for her. She had grown up as a plague orphan in a place where men were treated as the enemy and the girls were taught no real-world skills. So while I did struggle to like her at times – the girl made some ginormously stupid decisions that often resulted in the injury or death of others – I understood that it was all about the way she was raised. She was, for all intents and purposes, brainwashed and raised to be a compliant little soldier. Having any kind of freedom of choice whatsoever was a brand new concept to her, so it’s not all that surprising that she wasn’t very good at decision making.
Eve is fast paced and a super fast read. I had a hard time putting it down, so I had the whole book demolished in less than 24 hours (including the time I spent sleeping and at work). There isn’t a ton of backstory given to most of the characters, but it doesn’t really need much. Essentially you are given everything you needed to know: there was a plague, it wiped out most of the population of the planet, the supposed vaccine made things worse and the US has become a monarchy. It’s a pretty straightforward story that benefits greatly from some really good twists & turns.
There was a bit of an insta-love component when Eve meets Caleb – particularly considering that she had literally never laid eyes on a breathing man in her life and had been taught to believe that they fell somewhere between Hitler and Satan on the morality scale – but I found it hard to get too upset over it. Eve was just so naive that it was tough to blame her for seeing a very handsome guy who very literally rides in and saves the day and being like, “Holy crap, maybe they’re not so bad after all.” Plus, their relationship was kind of sweet. It wasn’t like, “gorgeous girl and rakish but handsome boy don’t get along until they decide they may as well just be hot together.” It was an inexperienced girl and a genuinely good guy, which made it distinctly less eye-roll-worthy.
I’m very glad that this is going to be a series because the ending of the book just slayed me. Seriously, this is what I probably looked like as I read the last few pages:
If the book had ended right there? Violence would have taken place. Things would have burned to the ground. Knowing that there’s more to come? AWESOMELY rage-inducing cliffhanger that will have readers waiting impatiently for the next book. Well played, Ms. Carey. Highly recommended.