To be quite honest, this book came off as a surprise because I didn't expect it to be good. I didn't expect it to have a rich world-building that makes sense, well-researched facts and information, have a heroine that is so kick-ass that she could probably beat KatnissEverdeen, have mostly women leaders, writing that's decent and captivating in some ways and a romance left mostly on the side, while dealing with much heavier subjects. So to say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into would be an understatment of the year.
I have a problem now where I don't exactly know what to say. I'm having a hard time trying to actually structure this in some kind of way and write a review at least half decent.
This book could've gone wrong. After all, it's dystopia and there are so many of them today that I don't even bother to read them. And unfortunately, most of them aren't even worth mentioning because they have zero research, zero accuracy and stupid main characters that think they are smart. Well, let me tell you something, this book has none of it. It's also not a happy book - not even close. There are rare glimpses of humour but they are so rare that they're almost unnoticeable.
The main character, Jansin, isn't quirky, nor sarcastic, nor witty, but she's smart, she's serious, she doesn't complain, and cares more about the others than herself. She doesn't try to make herself pass as average. She doesn't go around complaining about the way she looks. Actually, she even likes herself. She's strong-minded and knows what she wants. She's not afraid to stand up for herself and do what she thinks it's right. She's not afraid to shot a man down or fight with a guy thrice her size only with her hands. She knows when she does something wrong. She knows when she does something stupid. And you know what? I liked her a lot. She may not be all of the things I said above (a little bit more above), but I wouldn't expect her to be like that when she's training to go to a fucking military and was learning her whole life to act a certain way. Still, her beliefs change throughout the book, she becomes more observant to the world she lives in and freer that she's been before. It's amazing, watching her change and take a hold of her life. The only problem that I may had with her is that sometimes she sounded almost too wise for her age. I definitely didn't sound like that when I was 16 (which really isn't that far away) but then again, I didn't grow up in her world so I can't exactly be the judge of her. I really liked that the main focus was on her and her only and even though there is romance, it's done smoothly and without over exaggeration. There's no instalove(lust), no 'I love you's shouted from the rooftops and horny teenagers thinking more about how they want to shag each other than possibly saving the world. Instead, we get two strong-minded people who will do everything to escape the horrible world they've been thrown in. It's simple, without them being all over each other (not counting the end. Like literally, *spoiler alert* they had their first kiss at the end of the book, when they were safe, which was like me going: Hell yeah!!!!")
Those two characters, Jansin and Will, aren't afraid to kill, to break into the buildings, to risk their lives, to threat the others and I liked it. I liked their self-dependence, I liked their determination and I liked their simple love, crush, whatever. They didn't get me all worked up and almost throwing my tablet across the room. Instead, I enjoyed them. Simple as that.
One more thing that make this book even better, is how women were handled. They are leaders here, bad or good, it doesn't matter. We have a female Captain, a female that is the head of the Academy in which Jansin is training in, a female that is one of the most important people in the research program/science lab/for the love of god I can't remember exactly what, and a female, in this case our heroine, that kicks butts of the men twice or thrice her size and stands up to them without a fear. Females. Females rule this book and the feminist in me loved it in every way possible. That doesn't mean that the men aren't involved, because they sure as hell are, but when we're talking about positions in society, females are mostly on the top. It was fucking great and I applaud the author for it.
Moreover, the thing that is, sadly, rarely found in dystopian novels, is the technology development. Fortunately, we have it here! I couldn't believe it, honestly! It doesn't matter that we went underground, and even though some stuff stayed the same, we have things that are different, better and upgraded, something that will definitely happen in future. Also, the way people live underground was believable. The author here actually thought about oxygen, water, food, fire, rain, weather altogether, to make us see that people there aren't living there by some freaky miracle, when we all know it wouldn't be so easy to live underground. Like I said, this book is well researched and that could've been seen from every angle. The global warming thing wasn't laughable and the way things turned out weren't unrealistic as such. A masochistic part in me wanted to give this book 3.5 stars only because the ending wasn't burtal (I'm merciless, I'd just kill everybody off, don't hate me), but I decided that that's me being unrealistic and dumb so I rounded it up to 4 because there wasn't much that I didn't like.
I don't know if there is a sequel prepared for this or not, but there is definitely space left for it. Even though things wrapped up nicely, I still think there would be some things to develop even more, even some of the characters. All in all, a great, dystopian read that I really enjoyed. I'll make sure to follow this author in the future.