Centuries after the Fall, the United States has been wiped away. The crumbling remains of the great American empire are home now only to savage, lawless tribes and packs of ravening Damned - the twisted children of the apocalypse. Most of those few who survived humanity's destruction spend their short lives in a violent struggle for survival. But some light still flickers in the darkness: the Blessed of Bountiful live in seclusion, relying on walls both physical and spiritual to protect them from the Desolation that their world has become. Among them are the Saints, those few men and women born with superhuman abilities that the Blessed see as gifts from God. The violent apostate tribes of the Northeast Kingdom have always been a danger, but up until recently its small size and the vigilance of its people have made Bountiful an unappealing target. As attacks on the community grow harsher and more frequent, however, even the steadfast Blessed are forced to start preparing for the worst. With her home's very existence threatened, 17-year-old Ever Oaks, a Saint with the power to heal, is forced to make a difficult choice, one that may come to define her people's future.
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SERIES INFO: This is Book #1 in the “Book of Ever” series which, according to the author, is “planned as a trilogy.” Book #2, “which will be titled Extinction” will be out “sometime in 2016.”
I’m not labeling this one as dystopian because I felt that, despite it’s flaws and the dissatisfaction of some of it’s citizens, neither the founders nor current leaders of Bountiful were malevolent or deliberately oppressive. No society is perfect, and there will always be those who feel they don’t quite fit in (especially among the young).
Ever (18): is a Saint (someone gifted with supernatural powers) living in a fundamentalist religious society. She starts out with the ability to heal and begins to develop additional gifts along the way. She chafes against both the restrictions on women inherent in her society and the narrowness of her world, necessitated by very real dangers from outside. While her abilities are definitely “special,” she isn’t obnoxiously over talented. I like that she has a reasonable amount of self-defense & weapon skills for someone living in a dangerous world but isn’t unusually skilled. There are things she has to depend on others to do.
Jared (17): At first, like Ever, I disliked him. But he quickly proved his caring nature and determination to do the right thing. While he may have been a bit over competent for his age, his emotional responses seemed appropriate. He wasn’t controlling or dismissive. He let her do what she was good at and contributed his own skills to the mix.
Ever & Jared: I understand why she doesn’t really consider herself to be married, but their relationship was still a bit disturbing. They support each other with words & actions, and I liked them together; but I would like to have had more interaction between them earlier on, to develop the relationship. Note: it is clear from the beginning that something is going to happen with them, so it isn’t really a spoiler to discuss it.
Erlan: (Ever’s sort of husband) - deserves no mention; I seriously don’t understand him.
At first I had to write down the full names of Ever’s traveling companions, since sometimes they were called by their first names and sometimes by their last. As we went along, however, they began to be distinguished by their personalities.
I would have appreciated learning where Bountiful was in the pre-apocalyptic world sooner. (view spoiler)
The prologue didn’t work for me as a beginning. The jump back in time from it to chapter one was too abrupt. That could have been resolved by simply saying “2 weeks earlier,” but it also made me impatient to get back to where we started. Note: I often have this response when the prologue is from a time soon after the beginning of the next chapter.
A couple of times I thought I knew what was going to happen but the author found a different, not so obvious, way to accomplish the same end.
I was thinking that it was nice that her society, despite be religious fundamentalists, nevertheless accepted those that were gifted; and the author highlighted that by introducing someone whose people didn’t accept his gifts.
It was also nice, to get to see several different societies that have developed in isolation over the past several hundred years, from good to bad.
The ending can be considered a cliff-hanger since nothing is resolved, and a lot more questions have been introduced, but we don’t end right in the middle of a plot line. I will definitely be reading the sequel.
NARRATION: I wasn’t liking the reading at all, until I bumped up the speed. I listened on 1.5 speed (rather than my usual 1.25), and it was still a bit slow. However, I liked it much better on the higher speed. / The main distinction between character voices is through subtle accents. There is less distinction between the characters from Bountiful.
FAVORITE PART(S): Jared confronting Erlan, giving him a chance to “man up.” . Ever & Jared not really needing to speak.
“You’re making the concerned face,” she said “You’re making the decisive face,” he countered. “You’ve decided to go through with it.”
I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: swearing (was an unexpected, unpleasant surprise more than halfway through and included blasphemy) / torture (thankfully not described)
OTHER WARNINGS: In case you missed it in the summary, Ever lives in a religious community. This group is descended from members of the LDS (Mormon) church who survived the apocalypse.
MY RATINGS: --Narration: AVERAGE (LOW on it’s native speed) --Enjoyment: HIGH --Re-readability: AVERAGE
I received this book free in return for an honest review, courtesy of Audiobook Blast dot com.
Although I am not the type to listen to an audiobook more than once, I would listen to Exile again. It has great themes, a great arc, lots of action, and a wonderful narrator's voice. Also, I just love the main character.
What other book might you compare Exile to and why?
Exile fits into the YA genre popular now- I'd include it with The Hunger Games and Maze Runner. If those are your cup of tea, drink this one.
Any additional comments?
I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Blast.