Farrar, Straus and Giroux
April 8, 2014
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Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.
Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.
Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.
Elizabeth Fama's Plus One draws you in from the very beginning. In Soleil's world everything is divided between day and night, between Smudges and Rays. Some conduct their entire lives at night, legally forbidden from going out at night, they are the Smudges - Soleil included. Then, there are the Rays who's lives happen during the day. The Smudges are looked down on, doing things factory jobs; the Rays are viewed as better, more respectable.
Soleil -- Sol -- knows how the country works, that Smudges and Rays don't interact, lead separate existences. She knows it and she accepts it, except when it comes to one thing: her grandfather. Years ago her brother Ciel was transferred from night to day and Sol has not seen him again. It causes her heartache but Ciel isn't who has Sol willing to risk breaking the law.
Her grandfather is dying and Sol wants him to be able to hold her niece first. A niece who is a Ray.
It's the accident, the injury Sol causes that throws everything into motion. Only, not as she intended.
Plus One has both a great plot and fantastic characters. Our first introduction to Sol not only gives a glimpse into what her life is like, what is and is not expected of her but of her character, as well. As things move forward with Sol's attempt, readers learn more about the night and day societies of the novel's Chicago. We connect more with Sol as we learn what her world is like - the society as a whole and her everyday life.
Dystopians with a future, or even a present, much different from our own are great fun to read when they're well done. They're made even better when an alternate history comes into play. Major events from the actual past featured different outcomes, some with an initially smaller impact, leading to the dual societies of Plus One.
That we are not left with a vague idea - or even no idea, at all - about how the change occurred makes the story fuller and more enjoyable.
How the societal structured impacts the characters, from their day to day (or night to night) activities to their mental/emotional state and beyond is extremely well done. There is an action, adventure plot running through the novel paralleling the question of what is right and what one should be allowed to or prevented from doing.
I loved the characters of Plus One, how they interacted and the incredibly well imagined world in which their lives, their story took place. Plus One is a novel for those who loved character-centric stories and one for anyone who loves plot-driven tales.
Other books you might also enjoy: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons and Legend by Marie Lu
thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy to review