Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Me on The Haven

Title: The Haven
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs. And memories. But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they've been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

The Haven is mysterious and secretive, but unfortunately predictable and anchored by a narrator that doesn't act on her own until forced.

The secret Shiloh keeps aren't nearly as damning as the ones the staff at The Haven keep. She remembers something she shouldn't, something that sort of makes her question things. But only sort of. She doesn't actively search through the shadows of the hospital. She's pushed to join the rebellion over and over, pushed and pushed until the decision is made for her and she follows out of fear. At times I wished Abigail had been the narrator because she had agency, she wanted to leave. If left alone, I don't think Shiloh would've wanted to go.

The reader is kept in the dark in regards to the truth about The Haven, like Shiloh, for about half the book, and then the secrets are revealed. But there are allusions to the truth over time, to The Haven serving as more than a safe place for the Terminals to keep them from the Disease.

Before I started this, I found the premise familiar, and wasn't surprised to find it rather similar to a well-known adult science fiction novel. I found it very similar, and that, combined with my lack of sympathy towards Shiloh, left me not liking this book. I did find the end, the very end, rather dark and surprising, but it wasn't enough.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

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