In so many ways. Man, this really rocked my world for a few days. I read it slowly because I was studying very hard for the exams but I couldn't put it down when it was (more than) time to go to sleep. The cover doesn't do justice, this tale is more than a story or two. It's about Ember and the world he lives in. A world divided by genetics, full of dangers and disdain from the mascs towards the Y negatives, the lowest of the food chain. In between we have the andros, Y negatives who have already served the purpose of continuing the species with their bodies. They inject testosterone in order to fit into society and look more “normal”. But it’s a society they will never fully belong to. It's a battle lost before they even begin it. They will always be disregarded and considered less than human. They will always be used and pushed aside. Mascs will never consider them equals and even less bond with them.
The world is so well built it felt like a movie. I related it to Blade Runner, with bodily paints with flavor as a plus but with the same look-where-are-you-stepping-on feeling. Ember doesn't dream of electric sheep. He dreams of becoming a masc and being close to one. An impossible aim. He has desires he is afraid to acknowledge out loud but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming. Because he knows there is no hope to fulfill them. But still, he goes on, he works out in the gym and struggles to earn his next testosterone dosis rather than eating real food. Misery in the whole sense of the word. Because when Tuesdays come, he feels like a man, although this feeling is not enduring. I could feel his loneliness as a stone, his emptiness and his longings sharp like a knife. He indeed left a mark on me.
Despite this, life goes on, and we get glimpses of what being an andro implies, how they barely have a decent existence. How they get by with the constant abuse and the reminder that they will never be enough for the rest of the world. The author managed to slap me in the face once and again, moving me in ways I never expected her to. I wanted so badly for things to change, as much as Ember does. And they do. Suddenly there is a masc, Jess, at his door, offering him a job for several weeks. A job that takes him apart from everything he has ever known, alone with 4 mascs with no way to escape. Sounds like the best plan. He clutches the straw and agrees.
The Outskirts are dangerous, and Law takes a whole different meaning out of the big cities where people manage to survive. But what is even more dangerous is the proximity he feels towards Jess, by each passing day. The atmosphere turns into something more intimate at this instance, more secluded, and more meaningful that everything they hade ver experienced. It was beautiful to see their struggles, the conflicts and the sweet surrender to each other and to themselves.
I truly loved Jess but I think he wasn’t wholly developed as a character. Sometimes the author skipped parts of his personality and scenes that could have been so much more. We was such a faint-hearted guy I wanted to shake him up now and then. Still, I could see he had never been one to harm other people just for the sake of it, as other mascs do for fun or to fit a certain mold. But he has never been brave enough to break said mold and swim in the opposite direction. He is quiet and thoughtful, letting others take the reins and adapting to their wishes when the momento requires it. But when he meets Ember, he feels alive for the first time in his life, which fills him with confusión and doubts. He wants to get closer, but at the same time he knows shit will hit the fan the moment he makes a movement. Is Ember worthy of it all? Or is it better to keep blending and silencing his needs and resigning himself to what people has always been expecting of him?
I was truly enchanted with it all. The writing style drew me in with no effort at all. The environment is ugly but uncannily attractive at the same time. There is that special magic in the air, the certainty that something signiticative and beautiful will happen eventually. And it does. Along the hopelessness, there are bright moments and wonderful insights of the MCs' minds. I wanted to dwell on it forever. The story covered me like a warm blanket, it's a feeling I don't usually have while I read post-apocalyptic books, but there was a familiar comfort here.
Yes, it's a bizarre story, that with the androgynous character and all that he has to go through. I think this is the first ambiguous MC I have ever read. The events and the characters' actions are not the ones I waited for. They just came, never following a certain scheme. The story just flowed and I just devoted myself in reading and reading. I love it when authors don't restrain their imagination and creativeness. Because even though after a while I realize nothing that occurs in this book is really original in the big scheme of things, I still felt I had never heard of them before.
No, it's not perfect. I must admit there were some moments which felt too strange for me. For instance: (view spoiler)apart from that I could find a scene or two that felt a little lacking because they left things unexplained and unsolved. But overall, I must say this is a pretty solid read, and that managed to take my mind elsewhere.
***Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***