The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust…and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
Described as “Romeo and Juliet meets The Hunger Games,” I knew I had to add Eve to my ever-growing to-read list of dystopian books. Unfortunately, despite the gorgeous cover and promising synopsis, my reading experience was less than enjoyable.
The premise of Eve is interesting enough: after a plague wiped out the majority of the population, New America is struggling to rebuild. Orphaned boys and girls are sent to segregated schools, and after graduation are either sent to labour camps (for the boys) or to hospital beds in order to bear children and help repopulate the Earth (for the girls). While the idea of a woman’s worth being tied to her ability to reproduce isn’t unique when it comes to dystopian novels (see: Wither, The Handmaid’s Tale), it is certainly interesting (and disturbing) enough to create a compelling story… right? Unfortunately, when it comes to this story, the answer to that question is no.
One of the many issues that I had with Eve was the world building or, in this case, the lack thereof. We have this plague that wiped out 98% of the world’s population – and that’s all we’re told about it. Sure, we’re given a few descriptions of affected humans, but as to how/where/why the plague started, your guess is as good as mine. Then we have the issue of repopulating the planet. If the goal is to reproduce as quickly as possible, why are they relying solely on 18 year old orphan girls instead of the adults who are living in the city? Also, why would they go to all of the trouble (and cost) of educating these girls for 10+ years in subjects that include classic literature and waltzing when this schooling will never be used? This world just made no logical sense, and seemed to serve only to create a tragic back story and a sense of betrayal since those are always necessary.
And then we have Eve. She’s constantly mentioning that she’s the valedictorian of her School and that she’s smart, but we never actually get to see any proof of that; for the entire book, she comes across as naive, easily swayed, selfish, and unlikeable. At first, I was willing to accept her naivety – after all, she had been sheltered and given a false perception of the world – but that was no excuse for her lack of common sense. Within the first 70 pages, she sees a bear cub, decides that it must be like Winnie the Pooh and pets it, not realizing that it’s dangerous and that there’s probably an angry mama bear somewhere nearby. After that experience, you’d expect her to become a bit smarter, right? Unfortunately, it’s safe to say that petting a wild bear cub was one of her better choices, as it neither resulted in death, injury or abandonment – all of which Eve manages to inflict upon her friends with her poor decisions.
The romance aspect of the plot was where I completely lost interest. I didn’t mind Eve’s love interest, Caleb, who lived underground with a group of runaway orphan boys in a setup that reminded me a lot of Neverland. I did mind how easily Eve managed to fall in love with him, especially after being taught throughout her entire time at school that you should never trust men because they are horrible savages who only want to rape you. Not to mention that when Caleb rides away with her on horseback after saving her from a bear, Eve is offended when he says that she’s not his type – and that’s a mere day after escaping from School. There’s just no way that her entire belief system could be rewritten in such a short period of time.
On a positive note, Carey’s writing style is fluid and filled with some beautiful quotes. The plot is well-paced and there are enough twists and turns to keep your attention throughout the quick read. The secondary characters were interesting and generally likeable – especially Arden, who would have made an excellent protagonist.
Overall, Eve did not live up to my expectations. With some more detail about the world and a larger role for the supporting characters, the remaining books in this series may prove to be more enjoyable.