Friday, November 26, 2010

The Line [Review]

Title: The Line by Teri Hall
Series: The Line #1
Genre: Science-Fiction
What They Say:
An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It's said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line.

Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel's dad died in the last war. It's a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help.

Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right?

What I Say:
Ohh, boy. Do I love me a good old dystopia. Kids fighting to the death in an arena? Bring it on. Pleasantville featuring Dr. Kevorkian? Yes please. Delinquent teens being harvested for parts? Gimme gimme. Teri Hall's debut novel takes us to the future-US, which is uhhh missing a few states, let's just say. That said...

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
Rachel lives with her mother (Vivian) on The Property, one of the few nice places to live in the US today. Away from the cities and the harsh and unpredictable government, Rachel enjoys a quiet existence where others never visit: right by the Line. The Line is the last section of a protective boundary surrounding the country, meant to protect it from attack or invasion in the last war. Only, when threats came in about a possible attack, they really had to hurry on that boundary! So some Einstein thought, Hey, let's just draw a line and connect the starting point with what we have so far. Who cares if the northwest corner of the country will end up on the outside? Not me! Somebody okayed this brilliant idea, and the boundary was finished along the Line. Then the enemy bombed the shit out of the US, but it was okay because the boundary protected everyone! Except...oh right, all those people left Away on the other side...Whoops! And it gets better (or worse)! After the public response to that little snafu, the government decided to just throw out the Bill of Rights. Cause who needs that, right? Back to Rachel: her life continues to be quiet and dull until one day she gets a message in the stream by her house. Whoever sent it needs help. But the stream comes from Away, and nobody lives there...right? Well, spending time near the Line shouldn't be a problem, right? Well, it is, because paranoid Vivian has started to get even more paranoid lately, and why are they living in the middle of nowhere anyway? Vivian isn't hiding some dark, mysterious past or anything. (Spoiler: she is).

Ahh, the joys of dystopia. The more the government sucks, the deeper I'm sucked into the story. I mean, you're running low on time and cash, so you let a million people die? Damn, US, you scary! While this book was noticeably short, Hall provides the reader with a peek into a future so effed up (and an ending so abrupt) that I imagine many people will be waiting up for the sequel next year. This storyline could have gotten this book an easy three-star rating, if it weren't for the rest of this review...

Characters: meh
Heh. Well. I was so into the story and the mystery and stuff, that I made a lot of excuses for the characters as I read. Life is so hard for our main characters that they don't have time to cultivate personalities. Or, like, smile ever. So no, there was virtually no snark or the like in this book. Now that's a sign of a world gone bad.

Relationships: --
There, uhhh, weren't any in this book. I didn't want to give this section an 'ugh', because there will be some in the next book (Hall set it up bigtime). On closer inspection, this books was missing a lot of key book elements. It was so short, too. Surely, she could have spent twenty-or-so pages fleshing things out more. Hm...

Special Features: ooh
It's the future. Apparently a future where Kindles has made real books obsolete, you have to register a username on every website (Can you imagine? I can hardly stand making up usernames and passwords with letters, numbers, and symbols on some sites. Imagine having to log in to use Wikipedia. Oh, the horror!), and yet people still use those dorky handheld voice recorders most often seen on the desks of grade-grubbers in college lecture halls. Never said it was a pretty future.

Parting Quotes:
"That's your mom, right?" Pathik smiled. "She looks nicer than she did when she was dragging you away the other night."   
There was apparently a snark famine in the future, and by the time there were enough cocky jerkasses to resume snarking, they were all too tired and oppressed to bother trying. Very sad story.

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