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In the future, a little way from now, people fall into one of two camps, the Pures and the Crazies, and society has changed almost beyond recognition. The distinction is made through a scientific test, but Ana has discovered something about the test which is alarming. And when the rest of the country finds out what she knows, there will be uproar.
This is the follow up to 'The Glimpse' and I really, really wish I'd read that one first. This is partly because it was a bit confusing coming into the story half way through, and partly because I enjoyed it so much, I would have liked more - in the form of a prequel or sequel to this bit of the story. The way society has been segregated is quite controversial - it works on the assumptions that someone with mental health issues (or the potential to develop mental health issues) is less of a person, less useful to the world, than someone who doesn't have those defunct genes. I know some reviewers objected to this in the first book, and they've not made such a massive deal of it in this second offering. This could be because the point was made in the initial title, but to me it's no different from any other way of splitting society, be it based on sex, religion, race or disability. The Pures vs. Crazies scheme is just a different way to have a two tier community in which some are better than others.
There is so much that is foreign about the future version of London, so it's reassuring to know that some things haven't changed, and friendships and relationships and communities are still fundamental. Ana has an awful lot to face in this book, and it's these connections with other people that see her through. She and Cole have to go on the run when the place they're sheltering comes under attack from the outside world. Secrets to do with her mother's death begin to surface at the worst possible time, and as she grows close to her father, he too comes under threat. She puts her life (and her health) on the line to infiltrate secure environments in a bid to out the secrets they conceal. And all the while, she has to contend with the fact that she is being pursued, personally, by members of the Board who want to locate her and make her pay for what she has done and what she knows.
This is a really interesting book with a lot going on. In keeping with the life Ana is now living, nothing stays the same for long and she's always on the go, moving from one place to another, never settling. It's such a well-imagined, well-described dystopia that I really felt like I was getting a feel for what Ana must be seeing and going through. As our previous reviewer said in response to the The Glimpse, Ana is a great heroine, gutsy and strong but compassionate too. It's nice to have a girly lead in a not too girly book, and she definitely holds her own against the likes of Cole and Jasper.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I do wish I'd read the original first, so it loses half a star for not quite being enough for a stand alone story. If you've read the first, I'm sure you'll love this one, but if you haven't I would recommend that you begin at the beginning, safe in the knowledge that when that one ends, you'll still have this one to look forward to.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
Out now in paperback or on Kindle