Davy, short for Davina, is a musical prodigy AND beautiful AND fairly smart AND popular AND wealthy AND in love with her perfect boyfriend. She's also a pretty nice person. In other words, she's your typical Mary Sue. Until one day she's uninvited from her prestigious prep school (because it's too posh to expel anybody) for carrying a particular gene. The US has been overrun with violent crime and they've isolated said gene and are now in the process of rounding up everybody who has it. Most carriers are being put in concentration camps. Carriers with special talents are put into boot camps to become assassins for the government. Guess which one Davy qualifies for? If Davy were a more interesting character, that might sound interesting, right? Good jumping off point for a new dystopian series and all that.
Unless your mindsent tends more towards the Bella-from-Twilight-only-romance-can-save-me-girls-aren't-as-good-as-boys brand of thinking, skip this one. This book had tremendous potential but lacked all of the following: subtlety, follow-through on the most interesting parts , a strong female lead, and anything that could pass for character development. Davy is one of the most preposterous characters I've ever met. Her thought process is embarrassingly shallow and her take on gender equality would have been progressive had this book been written 30 years ago. Why the author thought it would be reasonable for Davy to still be in regular school at the age of 17 when she sat down to a piano at the age of three and could miraculously play a Chopin piece that she'd heard once before, in an elevator (in other words, probably Chopin Muzak and not actually Chopin), I couldn't say. In fact, Davy's planning to move to New York to attend Juilliard once she finished her senior year at the posh school, but there's nothing about her or her parents in this book that makes me think this character wouldn't have had a private tutor and gone to Juilliard at the ripe old age of, say, 12.
The book is also narrated in first person, present tense, which is the most annoying POV for me. Your miles may vary on that one. But first person present tense largely depends on the tell, not show brand of storytelling and you can never, EVER get into the mind of a narrator the way you can with third person.
I'm sure non-particular readers of all ages will love this one. I daresay I would have liked it as a teenager. But Davy is so insipid and two dimensional that I actually laughed out loud while reading what passes for her inner thoughts and musings. Being stuck in her head for a few hundred pages? Not a treat. Which makes it all the more extraordinary that I finished this book (albeit with heavy skimming), but I did it for you, gentle reader, so that you might escape this claptrap and read something of value instead.
* It was a Southern Baptist church I attended on Sunday evenings because practically the entire small town went there. I went to an Episcopal church on Sunday mornings (which I also kinda hated, but they didn't put me in the center of a circle to pray for me, so there's that), which probably qualified as a Satanic tendency in small town Mississippi in the 1980s. That, and my preference for wearing black, sleeping late, and listening to the Dead Milkmen were apparently enough to clinch the Satanic Tendencies of the Year award for me. I wish I were making this up.
NB: I read an advance reading copy of this book that was sent to my store. It will be published by Harper Teen in 2014.
P. S. Happy birthday, Mom!