Review of Wasteland by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan
Overview from www.bn.com: Fans of the Divergent and Hunger Games series will love Wasteland, the first installment of the Wasteland trilogy, by five-time Emmy Award–nominated writer Susan Kim and Edgar Award–winning Laurence Klavan. With heart-pounding thrills, this harrowing survival story is alive with action and intrigue. Welcome to the Wasteland, a post-apocalyptic U.S. where no one lives past the age of 19. But an early death isn’t the only doom waiting around the corner: Everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the variants—hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin.
Esther doesn’t care that her best friend, a variant, is considered “the enemy.” She doesn’t care that Levi, who controls the Source, is the real enemy and might send his Taser boys after her if she makes one wrong move. Then she meets Caleb, and just possibly, she might have a chance at salvation.
This week we are heading into a future where no one has ever been known to live past the age of 19. In the dystopian era of the novel Wasteland, everyone dies early from a sort of unknown plague. Despite the fact that anyone with symptoms of this plague is banished from the city of Prin, where our heroin Esther lives, it continues unabated.
Because of humanity’s relatively short life spans, “partnering” and childbirth occur earlier than in our own time and children are somewhat rare to find. As a consequence Esther’s older sister Sara is considered an old maid at eighteen and Esther will be one soon herself if she doesn’t find someone. Not that she’s in a hurry or anything.
She is still a child at heart and loves nothing more than playing an elaborate version of hide and seek with her “variant” friend Skar. Variants are a group of people who are basically born as hermaphrodites, due to what is thought to be a genetic mutation of their race, and are allowed to choose which sex they identify as. Skar identifies herself as a female which thrills Esther as it gives them something in common.
However, not everyone is thrilled with the existence of the variants, let alone the fact that Esther chooses to be friends with one. Their friendship eventually becomes downright dangerous for both of them when the variants start attacking the “norms” for no apparent reason.
And this is where I almost quit reading. At this point in the story we had already established the long and close friendship between Skar and Esther, so I kept wondering why, after the first attack, Esther didn’t go to her friend and try to find out the cause. I mean if their friendship is that important wouldn’t Esther want to get to the bottom of this so that it could be resolved as soon as possible?
Yet she doesn’t even attempt to figure it out until much later in the story. I really didn’t understand this. And as I said I almost quit reading at this point but then I decided to give the story another chance.
I am glad I did. It got much better from there on out, almost as if the authors realized their mistake and were trying to make up for it. There were a lot of surprises along the way. Things happened that I didn’t expect. Mysteries were explained in such a way that I didn’t see them coming. It was a really great ride. I am glad I gave this one a chance.
So the review overall, it turned out was mostly positive. I liked it. However I won’t go so far as to say I loved it. Still I didn’t find it as bad as some other reviewers did. I am not sure what they expected. I wasn’t expecting a great work of literature but an entertaining read. I got what I wanted.
Contains: some sexuality and violence