7 / 10
From the blurb: Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth's population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen year old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school but the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school's real purpose - 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.
I have to say this before I can even think about the rest of the book: the ending is abominable. Seriously. Any reader will see it coming a mile off and still hate it when it happens. It's clichéd and horrible, and goes against the whole journey of the book.
Also, the relationship between Eve and Caleb is sweet, but overly fast. They're suddenly planning their whole lives together when they barely know each other. At least Caleb has enough sense to apply the brakes. I would have liked to know more about the Plague that created this dystopian world.
Anyway, onto why I liked this book. Eve is a smart, strong woman struggling against the brainwashing that's been going on since she was five. Though on the other hand, she's somewhat careless when it comes to other people, and when she breaks down she does it properly! She says she's slow to trust, but once that barrier's crossed the first time she's basically fine. The King, the ruler of this terrible new world, wants Eve. Supposedly so she can carry his children. But he puts a great deal of manpower onto tracking her down, and Eve doesn't stop to question this the way I did. Why is one girl so important? I hope we find out in the next book.
And Caleb is the angry but gentle product of horrible conditions for young men. But my very favourite character is Benny, the serious but lovely six year old who concentrates so fiercely when he reads or writes and who clings to Eve. When he meets her he asks, "Are you my mother?" and it's heartbreaking. Leif, too, makes a fantastic villain, a guy impossible to understand and great to hate. And just when you think all of the characters are damaged, there's a reminder of Pip and Ruby whose innocence is refreshing, but will destroy their lives.
The pacing in this book is great; the action moves ahead at a pace maybe a shade too slow but not so much that it becomes sluggish. The only slight problem there is that high-action scenes are slightly clumsily written, becoming a little muddled. The way Eve surveys remnants of the old world, our world, is hilarious - look out for her description of a television. And though I may hate the cliffhanger, it has made me desperate for the sequel.
Teaser quote: 'My,' he crooned, his voice completely out of tune, 'balls are sweating, my balls are sweating, I can't keep my balls from sweating, noooo, noooo, noooo!'
'Why is that funny? What are "balls"? Like the ball of your foot?'
You'll probably like this book if you liked 'Immortal Rules' by Julie Kagawa or 'Crossed' by Ally Condie, the road-trip sequel to 'Matched'.
The sequel, Once, was released in June 2012.