Friday, July 10, 2015

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama — OPTIONAL

Fama, Elizabeth Plus One, 373 pgs. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan), 2014. $17.99. Language: R (75+ swears, 9 ‘f’); Violence: R; Mature Content: R.

In this alternate history, a flu epidemic caused the American population to be divided into day and night dwellers in order to increase production and efficiency. It is now the modern day, and Sol, a Smudge — or night dweller — is risking everything to break curfew and smuggle her newborn niece out of the hospital nursery. Even if it means breaking a half dozen different laws, it’s worth it if her dying grandfather gets to see his great-granddaughter just once before he breathes his last breath. But things go horrendously wrong, and now Sol’s on the run — with the wrong baby. Worse, someone’s holding her grandfather for ransom. And on top of it all, she has a reluctant companion in the form of an uptight day dweller, a boy named D’Arcy.

This is a fun adventure story for fans of alternate histories or dystopias. The love story develops slowly and is earnest, romantic, and deliciously bittersweet. Sol is an admirable character with plenty of realistic flaws, and I loved rooting for her. Despite the intricate story line, this seems to be a stand-alone, with plenty of speculation about what might happen after the last page is finished. Because of the language, violence, and strong mature content (including prostitution and a first-time sex scene), this one might work best for older audiences and/or public libraries, hence the OPTIONAL rating.

HS — OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

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