“I just want to be normal, like everybody else.”
“Are you sure that being like everybody else will make you happy?”
This is a world that scares me more than a war-torn landscape or a life with robots or aliens or any other dystopia trope. This is a world without love, where emotions have to be “cured” to make people “happy” – or at least to make them calm, easy to manage and easy to control.
“Human beings, in their natural state, are unpredictable, erratic, and unhappy. It is only once their animal instincts are controlled that they can be responsible, dependable, and content.”
Lena is closing in on her 18th birthday, when she’ll be eligible for The Cure, something she’s anxiously awaited her entire life. Love destroyed her family, killed her mother, drove everyone apart, made people hate them. The last thing she wants is to deal with it herself. Until she meets Alex.
“My heart is drumming in my chest so hard it aches, but it’s the good kind of ache, like the feeling you get on the first real day of autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are all flaring at the edges and the wind smells just vaguely of smoke – like the end and the beginning of something all at once.”
“And now I know why they invented words for love, why they had to: It’s the only thing that can come close to describing what I feel in that moment, the baffling mixture of pain and pleasure and fear and joy, all running sharply through me at once.”
She’s lived in a segregated society her entire life, only allowed among “cured” males, who are like zombies. Being around a boy who looks at her like she’s pretty? Yeah, she can’t help herself. But it makes her sick – after all, love in her society is defined as deliria, a type of mental illness that is the scourge of society, the cause of wars and discontent, the cause of all the trouble in the world.
“I know what the problem is, of course. The disorientation, the distraction, the difficulty focusing – all classic Phase One signs of deliria. But I don’t care. If pneumonia felt this good I’d stand out in the snow in the winter with bare feet and no coat, or march into the hospital and kiss pneumonia patients”
She’s in love. But what do you do when you suddenly don’t want to be cured in a world that demands it? In a world where there are no other options? How do you say goodbye to everything you know; family, friends, a life?
“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”
The world building here is good. It expands on the prequel in interesting ways, delving more deeply into a society where life centers around being cured of too much emotion. But I really really feel like we are missing the origin story. I’m still having trouble figuring out how all of this started, where the theories came from. It’s all brushed over so quickly that I’m really disappointed in the lack of it. While I found the premise and set-up fascinating, it’s like there’s a huge empty hole in the middle of the puzzle.
I like the character development, and I found myself constantly on pins and needles, waiting for Annabel from the prequel to appear. Just killed me, knowing her story and not getting to see more of her. I hope there is a bigger role for her in later novels. I’ll definitely be reading more.