Author: Teri Hall
Page Count: 220
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: dystopian, young adult, paranormal
Copy for review provided by Around the World Book Tours
Note: This book will be released on March 4, 2010
50 words or less: Rachel and her mom are living on The Property in a heavily controlled neofascist version of the U.S. When she hears a mysterious call for help from the forbidden Away, Rachel answers, and life as she knows it is never going to be the same.
Woo, my first debut novel of 2010! I'm happy to say that this one was a very good way to kick off the Debut Author Challenge. The Line is a clever mix of dystopian fiction, the paranormal, a slight dash of romance, and a bunch of important lessons- it's a good way to pass the time while we all wait for the third Hunger Games book to come out.
I will say this- The Line takes awhile to get started. It starts off as a fairly typical (if there is such a thing) dystopian novel- the U.S. barely won an all out nuclear war and deals with the huge amounts of collateral damage by enforcing draconian laws, taxes, and punishments. Rachel Quillen and her mom, Vivian, live outside of town on The Property, a large parcel of land complete with greenhouse (hence the cover) that's owned by Ms. Moore, Vivian's boss and Rachel's teacher when it comes to growing orchids. Rachel is a likeable enough character- her mom warns her constantly to be vigilant and to think for herself, but Rachel never really understands why.
All that changes when Rachel makes some discoveries about her mom's past, her dad's history, and the truth of what lays on the other side of The Line, which is the boundary between the supposedly safe area and Away, the supposedly vast nuclear wasteland. This is the point in the story (about halfway) where The Line undergoes a transformation and becomes a unique book. Rachel has to make some tough choices and encounters that moment that we all go through when we realize that our parents are not perfect; the secondary characters (especially the Others) get a good share of the attention and their experiences and positions definitely stoked my interest in the next installment, since this is the first book in a series. On an unrelated note, I thought the explanations of the history behind the current political situation in the book were really interesting and, because they took the form of dialogue between Rachel and her mom, didn't bog the story down, which is always nice. A lot of thought obviously went into creating a realistic backstory for the politics and regulations of the world the story is set in.
My main criticism of the book is that the pacing of the book is just a little bit off- we get a whole lot of establishment in the beginning of the book that basically presents the themes of the book, one after the other. Then there's almost a pause, and the action of the story picked up dramatically. I think I would have appreciated a more thorough blending of the two elements. Granted, I read an uncorrected proof and perhaps there are some differences between that and the final product, but the pacing was one thing that stood out in my mind.
With that said, The Line is a good start in what certainly seems to be a promising series. I'm definitely on board for future installments and am excited to find out what happens with the Others and Rachel in the next book.
Overall Grade: B+