Book Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Posted May 15, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 9 Comments

Book Review: Plus One by Elizabeth FamaPlus One by Elizabeth Fama
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on April 8th, 2014
Genres: dystopia, young adult
Pages: 373
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Fama’s first book, Monstrous Beauty. So my expectations were pretty high for Plus One. To be honest, I considered not reviewing it, because the blurb didn’t really do much for me, and books about babies are so not my thing. But because I loved her writing so much, I thought I would attempt it anyway. I liked it, but it certainly wasn’t as strong a book as her first effort.

The writing expertise is still there, and her voice is as strong as ever, but I just didn’t get attached to these characters for some reason. The romance annoyed me, and I feel like I would have enjoyed the book better if Sol and D’arcy had stayed friends. They didn’t have very much chemistry, and what they did have didn’t work for me. There was no build-up to get there, no tension. They just went from friends to making out, and frankly, that part of it was kind of a mess.

As far as the plot goes though, I actually really enjoyed that part. You have the Days and the Smudges (night dwellers) living in a world that was divided after the Spanish Influenza of 1917. It was a bit far-fetched and didn’t make a ton of sense but I was able to go with it enough to enjoy the story. I think what annoyed me more than anything was the Noma, which was this gang that bullied and beat people up, but the reader never really gets a reason why they exist, and why they behave the way they do? What is their origin? What is their motive? And since they played such a large part in the story, this really irritated me. Did I miss it? Or was it just not explained well, or at all?

But I really do think the characters were handled well, except for the romance part. I liked all of them, and some of them had interesting motivations that made them neither black or white but entirely gray. Which is interesting. I like when the characters keep you guessing. I fee there were some clarity issues here though, and with the story because there were moments when I wish things had been explained better. Basically, there is a lot going on and you have to pay full attention to not miss anything, and with my attention span, that’s hard. So I missed stuff probably and it affected my enjoyment of the book, but at the same time, I do think it could have been explained in a clearer way.

Obviously I enjoyed it enough to rate it three stars, which means I liked it, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have due to all these factors. Do I think it’s worth reading? Yeah, but I think her other book was better. The world building could be stronger, and I don’t think this book needed a romance, and yet it got one. But if you are reading it just for the story, it will entertain you for a few hours. And the bonus is the short chapters. I love those.


9 responses to “Book Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

  1. Me pretty much. I liked the characters but their chemistry didn’t spark for me either. Three stars from me, but grudgingly ’cause I didn’t enjoy the book as much as you seem to have. The MC annoyed me because she kinda seemed so generic and I was in a slump back then, no patience for generic.

    I think the Noma’s motive was basically to create fear as it’d facilitate their operations more effectively than, say, if they’d been known to be gentle or humane or whatever. But I’m not sure, I just made it all up.
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    • I agree with you. The characters were pretty generic. I don’t remember much about them already.

      But what exactly were their operations? And how did they come to be? That’s what I don’t understand. O_o

  2. Oooh, that’s tough when the whole basis of a story just doesn’t make much sense. I haven’t had much luck lately finding romances that really grabbed me, and this one doesn’t sound like it would do it either. Well your review may have made me iffy about reading Plus One, but it doesn’t make me eager to go back and read Monstrous Beauty!
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  3. As interesting as this sounds, I haven’t seen much love for it. But it was never on my radar to begin with. I loved Monstrous Beauty, so I can see why your standards would be high. At least there were a few things that were enjoyable! 🙂

    • Yeah, overall it was decent. I am definitely going to read her next book so it wasn’t THAT bad. Just depends on the plot, I guess.

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