Thursday, April 2, 2015

Review: Essence by Lisa Ann O'Kane

by Lisa Ann O'Kane

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Publisher: Angry Robot Ltd
Publication Date: June 2014
Page Count: 243
Format: E-Book
Source: Netgalley (thank you!)

Goodreads Synopsis: Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall.


Review: I had hoped to get this review posted much earlier in the day, but better late than never, right? I am all about sticking to my April review goal though, which means I needed to finish writing it out before I allow myself to go to bed, so that's what I'm going to do! I have had this book on Netgalley for awhile now, and I should have gotten to it much sooner (story of my life, I guess). While I was definitely interested in the synopsis when I first requested it, it made me a little hesitant once I was accepted and could actually read it. Sure, dystopians are one of my favorite genres, but this one seemed quite a bit different than the others I have read thus far. Turns out, it was pretty different, though I do not think that it was a bad thing at all. 

Essence was incredibly realistic, which was one of the biggest changes for me. A lot of the dystopians I have read seem pretty impossible when you think about it compared to how we live currently. This book was not the same, though. It takes place in the not-so-distant future, seeing people rebuild after a serious of earthquakes have destroyed much of what they have known. Out of this disaster comes to distinct groups or cults, the Centrist Movement and the Community.

It was very interesting to see the drastic difference between these two groups. We don't get as much detail about the Centrist Movement as Autumn decides to leave them, but we are given enough information to realize why she would not be happy to stay there. They believe that adrenaline and showing any sort of emotion, happiness included, will lead to a much shorter life. I cannot say that I would want to live in a place with people that had those beliefs, either! The Community believes the exact opposite. They believe that having emotions and being adventurous will lead to a much longer life. Ultimately, Autumn has to decide what she believes. 

I do think that this book had a lot of exciting parts to it since a lot of it took place at Yosemite National Park. It was fun getting so much description about where they were and what they were doing. I do think that the writing was very nice as well. O'Kane gives a lot of great details that kept me interested and grateful to know the information. She had a style of writing that had me want to continue reading without putting the book down. 

The only thing I did not love about the book was the love triangle. Don't get me wrong, all of the characters were fantastic. I loved Autumn as a main character, and the author did a wonderful job of describing the minor characters as well, so it was quite easy to like them, too. Love triangles can be pretty hit or miss for me though, and this one made it quite obvious who she was going to pick pretty quickly. This is not always necessarily a bad thing, but it was not my favorite in this book. That is just a minor detail though, and certainly not something that made me dislike the book.

I would highly recommend this book to any other dystopian fans out there. It has a lot of unique, different situations to offer than what we have seen in the popular dystopians lately, and I think that makes it even more enjoyable to read.

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0

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