Hey you guys and girls! Today I’m going to be doing something new. A little while ago I was asked if I wanted to participate in a blogtour. I had no clue what that was, but it is really fun! A couple of bloggers are asked to read the same book, then one by one, on a set date, the bloggers post reviews about that book on their personal blogs and as a result people can read lots of different opinions on one and the same book while at the same time taking a tour through many different blogs. I’m going to kick off this blogtour which revolves around N.22, a Dutch YA dystopia, written by Joyce Roele. Let me first give you a description (translated to English) and then I will tell you why you should read this book (because it was awesome!)
Kate has a healing ability and because of it she has been held captive by the government for two years and counting. Before she was taken away from home her mother gave her four basic rules which would keep her alive in the laboratories. However, now, after two years, these rules are the reason why her body is shutting down. Kate has given up all hope of freedom, especially now that she has been sent to laboratory Mentha. A chance encounter changes her monotonous life forever.
Alexander and Lena are searching for their best friend Kate. Alexander is convinced it is his fault that Kate’s gift got discovered and he will do anything to free her and fix his mistake. The search is full of danger and choices they never thought they would have to make.
Will Mentha be Kate’s end of the road? Or can she escape this nightmare with the help of her friends?
Well, if that description didn’t trigger you let me help you by making the choice to read this book much simpler 😉
Kate is a wonderful heroine. She’s lonely, almost completely broken and balances on the brink of death and yet she still hasn’t given up and still hasn’t lost her compassion. Whenever she sees someone who needs help she will rush in to make that person better, even if it will cost her the little reserve of energy she has left after two years of constant torture and famine. The two years she spent in researchfacilities she has kept to herself, never showing emotions, never talking, fading into the background, all in an effort to stay as much out of sight of the labtechs as possible. But when she meets young Zoë she can’t keep her distance. This sweet little girl can’t be left to fend for herself, so, Kate decides to break one of her mothers rules and befriends Zoë. This one decision turns her life upside down and sets into motion inevitable events that will lead to Kate’s freedom or her death.
Alexander was a bit more elusive as a character. He struggles with survivors guilt because Kate used her gift to help him and as a result she got captured. He has put his life on hold so he can track Kate down and help her, but the search is slow and hard as there are multiple laboratories where the gifted are observed and ‘disected’ and all of them are guarded. Luckily, Alex has a gift of his own that enables him to create illusions. Except for his guilt and will to find Kate, Alexander is not really a rounded character. The reader gets only glimpses of his inner world and to me he wasn’t all that remarkable or likable. At times I found him a bit immature. Needless to say that Alexander wasn’t one of my favorite characters.
Branden, however, stole my heart. He’s annoying, loves to tease both Kate and Zoë, yet at the same time is really sweet and tender and cares more for others than he lets on. He’s a bit of a mystery and wildcard and therefore I loved him. Whenever Kate’s in pain or trouble he is by her side, while at the same time he keeps her on edge and in the present by teasing and antagonizing her. I’m really hoping Branden and Kate will end up together. So, keeping my fingers crossed for the next books!
I loved the pace in this book. It was gradual and yet really suspenseful. As reader you follow Kate in her horrible life that consists of cruel tests, eating and sleeping. Her only moments of solace are the ones she spends with Zoë and Branden and her daydreams about the beach and ocean. Because the pace is not too fast you get to know Kate really well and will hope that the future has something better in store for her. However, even though the pace is gradual the tension remains high. From the very first page I wondered how this story would end and I kept turning pages to find out what would happen next in Kate’s life and if Alexander and Lena would find their friend in time.
Another thing I loved was the writing style. Joyce has a fresh and easy writing style that reads very pleasant. At the same time her writing is poetic and there is more than one beautiful sentence in this book that will make a perfect quote!
The worldbuilding in this first book in the series was a bit rudimentary, but that is to be expected as most of the book takes place in the same setting. However there are a few hints as to the world outside the research facilities. It seems like people are born into their circumstances and can’t get out of them (so if you are born in a industrial town you will probably end up working in the factory for the government). Children are educated to perform certain professions, so this also seems to point to a society that is strictly ordered and where people have little or no choice in what they want to do. There is also mention of the world being torn apart by natural disasters and rebuild to its former grandeur, but this isn’t explained in detail. The government is, at this stage, a shadow in the background as the only thing you know as reader is that they imprison special people. I’m looking forward to the next books and to discovering more about this world.
The only thing I liked less was the fact that some parts of the book and the writing style reminded me very much of Tahereh Mafi’s Touching Juliette trilogy. I got the feeling that the writer was very much inspired by this serie and based at least part of her book on it. However, because there were enough differences with Tahereh’s trilogy and because N.22 is written so well it didn’t bother me that much. Hopefully the next books will be completely different than any other stories because this series has everything in it to become a bestseller and deserves to be an original!
If you’re looking for a suspenseful, emotional dystopia with a great heroine, fun side characters and a beautiful writingstyle, look no further because N.22 has got it all!