She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.
So she stays.
But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?
Bachorz’s first novel, Candor, was one of my favorites last year, and I read over a hundred books so that’s saying something.
This book, well... It kills me to say that it's not a favorite.
Let’s start with what I liked. First and foremost, I love Ruby’s name! It’s so perfect for her character. I liked the mystery surrounding Ruby’s world. The whole time I kept asking myself who Otto was, how Darwin managed to hide his age in the real world, how the outside world viewed Ruby’s congregation, who the Visitor was, where the Water went, and lots more. I had endless questions that kept spurring me on to read, and the tension in the beginning was fabulously thick.
Things slowed down considerably in the middle, and it started to feel a bit repetitive. Since Ruby is 200 years old, I expected her to have pondered the pros and cons of escaping long ago. So it didn’t make sense that she would just now be considering running away. Seems like something she’d have gone through fifty, one hundred, even a hundred and fifty years ago. It didn’t make sense that she’d wait so long to take these considerations seriously, with or without Ford. In addition, the ending wasn’t completely satisfying because, to me, it felt like that’s where the real story began.
As with most of my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
After reading the first third of this book, I was really hoping to get answers to the questions running around in my head. Unfortunately, we don’t. I was SO bummed about that. I wish that there had been less focus on Ruby trying to decide whether or not to leave her congregation, and more on how she deals with the outside world once she does leave. Yes, it takes incredible courage to leave the only thing you’ve ever known, but it takes even more to survive in the unknown.
It’s easy to run back to what you know, even if what you know isn’t good for you. It’s really hard to stay and figure out how to create a new and better life. I wanted to see her do this. I wanted to see her struggle with finding Otto, questioning why he left, seeing how Ford was changed after she healed him, whether his mother comes into the story, everything. Most of all, I wanted to know more about the Visitor. Who is he? How does he know who and what Ruby is? For that matter, what is she? There are so many things she would begin to question once she’s out in the real world, and I wanted to see her find the answers. To me, that’s the real story, not the leaving.
I do hope there is another book in the works, because I would still love to find out the answers to all these questions. :)