Author Krista McGee is to be commended for distilling such a fully realized world into so few pages, without any excess exposition or data dumps. Details were revealed as they were needed, never intruding or halting the narrative but flowing alongside it. I also appreciated how Thalli was allowed to gradually acclimate to new situations and become her own person rather than conform to the many stereotypes such a character could easily have fallen into. She's a heroine who learns to love without being defined it, combining creativity and logical reasoning, and able to eventually make her own choices while remaining compassionate to the needs of others.
The book doesn't offer easy answers. The Scientists in this book are portrayed as flawed individuals who truly believe they are doing what is right for humanity. There's an antagonist, true, but he doesn't waste time monologuing plans for domination. He actually works as a Scientist would, studying, observing, and proposing solutions for what he sees as the greater good. Other Scientists are portrayed as caring for people, and Berk's training serves him well as he seeks to work changes from within the system.
Even the faith element of the story was presented without simple solutions. Introducing the protagonist to God didn't magically whisk her problems away, nor did she change into a completely different person. Instead, she gained the ability to see past her fear and make choices not based on her own needs but those of others. That's a real testimony that didn't require extensive or complicated theological discussions, which would have been inappropriate to the story.
Some may the pace slow, but I enjoyed reading a YA book that didn't depend on pure adrenaline. Both Thalli and Brek were great protagonists, and the secondary characters also shone (even the "villains"). The stark, first-person prose captured exactly what a young teen thrust in such situations might feel, neither drowning in the emotion nor ignoring it, allowing the reader to truly live through another's eyes.
Some parents may be uncomfortable with children reading about a distopian world, particularly one where death is casually used against those who step out of line. I respect such views, but I highly encourage them to read this book first before making a blanket judgement. The subject matter is handled very well, portraying the gravity of the situation without straying into inappropriate territory. Readers from sixth grade onward will find much to ponder, discuss, and learn from.
I loved the light romance, Thalli's sweet, innocent character, and the twist at the end of that made me scream, "I need the sequel ASAP!" I will not be satisfied until I hold a copy of Luminary is my shaking hands. (which, sadly, will be in 2014. It's only 4 months, right?) There really isn't anything in this book I can complain about. The characters were all really well-written. The religious aspect to it wasn't pushy at all. And there were no plot-holes! ~ The Maniacal Bookworm
I'm really excited about Anomaly because, one, I've really enjoyed Krista's other books, (which are contemporary re-imaginings of Bible stories. Transporting the story the story of Esther to a reality-dating show? Genius!) and two, it's Christian Teen Dystopian fiction! Thalli's voice grabbed me from the first sentence and never let go. You catch some of the wonder that she feels as she experiences new emotions for the first time and eventually comes to know the Designer. The plot twists were a little predictable, and Berk is a little too perfect, but I still can't wait for Luminary! A great addition to the Inspirational YA canon, Anomaly is also a great example of the what new face of Christian Teen fiction looks like. Authors like Krista McGee are helping this genre find its feet and it's exciting to see!
As my review summary says, the book started out excellent, then it went to great, and finally ended with a status of good. Before I explain why, let me first say that I believe the author did a good job mixing science and religion into a fiction novel. I also appreciate Christian authors, which is why I devoted myself to such a long review and detailed score.
Now with that said, the book started out excellently. It caught my attention and I read about a third of the book in one sitting, very quick. I still imagine parts of the book as scenes in a movie, especially, the introduction of Rhen's sickness (just brilliantly done!) It was an excellent read.
However, as I reached the mid point of the book things changed. I don't know if the author was becoming frustrated with how fixed the story line was weaved or if she just ran out of ideas, but I found myself becoming disinterested (a very bad thing as a reader). Let me explain why. First, the surrounding scene does not change very much. The reader is literally left with no new room to imagine new scenery. If you like reading books about a prisoner in a cell or a fisherman abandoned on a boat then you will probably like this book (that might be an exaggeration, but it is very accurate to the scenes one will find in this book). Thus, I found myself dying for a change of scenery. Second, the author uses the same feature in her story over and over. For example, in describing the inner character traits of Thali she allows the story line to go in circles four times in a row to express the point. While the story line does progress, it does so ever so slow. I wonder if it could not have been achieved differently? This is perhaps what disconnected me to the story line the most as the story essentially came to a halt. Third, the author uses a simple story structure that led me to guess the ending of the story by the mid point of the book, and I was mostly correct. I honestly believe most readers guessed the ending by this point to because the author guided us in that direction by restricting the surrounding events to just two outcomes (slightly boring).
While the book started out excellent and went to great, by the end I found the book to be okay or just good. The main reason for this is due to Thali, the main character. At about by page 200 (which is two-thirds of the book) I found myself becoming so annoyed with Thali that I actually put down the book for a week! I felt that the author used the same character traits in Thali too often to the point that I started really hating her. She became way to predictable and too fake to actually like. Also, I believe the author pushed the "anomaly" issue on Thali a little too much in the book. Although, there was other factors involved for putting down the book, I do believe that the book's lack of story structure and character interest caused it.
I eventually did finish the book and was partially correct in my guessing the ending. However, perhaps the ending is the another issue that reviewers need to address. I will not try to give any spoilers, but the author relies to heavily on Science and smartness to drive her story. In addition, I believe this causes an imbalance between the level of science (setting) and the problem of conflict that drives the story. It really leaves the reader stressing the logic behind it with one sarcastic word, "Right......."
Overall, I had to give it 4 out of 5, although, I wanted to give it a three. The reason it gets four stars is that I do like the book and the story behind it. It is hard to drive Christian theology in a fiction story. The author did a great job with mixing both. She also did a great job with the twists in the story (but some were guessable). I believe if you are a female reader you will thoroughly enjoy this book better than I did (I am recommending it to my sister). I also believe that this book is more oriented for teens than young adults. I do look forward to her next book, because I believe we will have more room to know better the other characters like John and Rhen (in fact I was dying for more character interaction!) Thus, if you like novels about totalitarian governments and the suspense that comes with them then you will like this novel. But men beware: you need to be dedicated to reading it through!
Dystopian young adult novels are an upcoming new trend. I have read several and have enjoyed each one for their individual uniqueness. Though different they share many common factors such as controlling government, crazy scientists, low morals, and technological advance. Anomaly did include such factors, but went further and dealt with topics of deep spirituality and physiological affects paired with technological advances.
I enjoyed the slow but not boring pace of the book. I was able to deeply intertwine my feelings in the characters lives. I thoroughly enjoyed the musical references. Through music we see how it brings out emotions in Thalli that are not supposed to exist. Music further helps her to recognize her creator and speak to him.
The book was not an edge of your seat action packed book, but was definitely not a dull one either. I enjoyed the journey many of the characters experienced in their quest to find God.
Loved the ending. Just when you think you know the ending- BAM! Look forward to reading the next book in the series.
I received a complimentary copy from BookSneeze in exchange for this independent and unbiased review.