Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Dove Arising by Karen Bao

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Just Finished Reading ... Dove Arising by Karen Bao

Dove Arising
by Karen Bao
To be published by Viking
on February 24, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar. Then her mother is arrested. The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider. Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom:  that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...
My take: I'm not the most experienced sci-fi reader, but the idea of a book set on the moon really captured my imagination. While I did find much to like about this book, there were also some things that prevented me from loving it.

Dove Arising started out strong. Phaet and her best friend Umbriel are working in the greenhouses, where food for their moon colony is genetically engineered. We also see some cool futuristic technology -- maybe you joke about your phone being glued to your hand? In this world, that's exactly where your personal screen is implanted. 

I liked Phaet as a narrator -- she had a precise, intelligent way of telling a story that resonated with me as a reader. She's an interesting character -- obviously smart, yet when she's with Umbriel and her family, she speaks very little.

The conflict in the book also started out strong. Phaet has a younger brother and sister, and the kids are a close-knit group after the death of their father. When Phaet's mother is imprisoned, Phaet either has to come up with money to bail her out, or be sent to a dismal shelter with her siblings. But she thinks of a third alternative: she'll join the military. This was when the book started to unravel a bit for me. The plotline about Phaet's mother gets put on the backburner as she heads to military training. 

See if this rings a bell: Phaet and the other military recruits are forced to spar with one another. There's a scoreboard where their standings are posted. Phaet is young (only fifteen) and small of stature, yet she manages to climb up the rankings, and a jealous fellow recruit attacks her. 

Hmmm....



I know there are probably readers out there who can't get enough of this stuff, but I for one would be happy to call a temporary moratorium on YA books that feature sparring matches with scoreboards. Hello? We're on the moon!! I wanted to read a book about living on the moon, not one about people fighting in a place that felt like it could have been anywhere. (After a while, the training shifted and there was a little bit of flying.) By the end of the book, the story returned to the prior matter of Phaet's mom and siblings, but by that point I'd lost the thread of that plot and when it was revealed that a certain character did something bad, I had to page back to figure out who that person was.

While I'm not sure this trilogy is going to be for me, I definitely think this book -- and its writer -- have many strengths. I did like the writing a lot and I thought the worldbuilding had promise, but the plot took too many detours for my taste. 

Curious? I'll be giving this away for one of my Freebie Friday choices tomorrow, so be sure to stop by!

20 comments:

  1. The moon setting does sound cool and original. Too bad it strays from that to the more predictable fighting/training scenes.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  2. To be fair, I'm not the biggest fan of fight scenes. So I was unhappy when the middle of the book was devoted to that. And it didn't seem to serve much purpose to me...

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  3. I didn't even get that far to rate it . I can see the comparisons with Divergent but I wasn't liking the of this story :(

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    1. Sorry to hear that! I did finish it and there were things I liked about it.

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  4. I'm not a huge fan of fight scenes... unless they're done exceptionally well, there's something really special about them, or they drive the plot forward in an interesting way.

    I remember years ago reading a YA book set on the moon. I think it was called This Place Has No Atmosphere. It was more fluffy than this one sounds. No military or physical sparring matches there!

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  5. I could deal with some similarities because the idea of living on moon appeals to me as well

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    1. I really wish there had been more about the moon in this. But hope you enjoy!

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  6. Hmmmn, I'm not the biggest sci-fi fan but I do really enjoy any kind of fight scenes in books. I haven't seen many reviews on this one yet so I'll keep an eye out on it...

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  7. So I hate training and fighting scenes in books. When its battle time I can deal if its not super long but I want the world building and the character development not practice time with my fighting skills.

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    1. I thought it was just me! I skim those training sequences....

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  8. I'm a big fan of the underdogs climbing the ranks by besting the strongest of the bunch. So I think I'd like to give this one a try. :)

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    1. Then this might be perfect for you! Let me know if you read it :)

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  9. I'm sad to hear that you didn't like it as much, especially since this is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, but I understand where you're coming from. There are so many routes the author could have taken with a book set on the moon. It's a shame she went for the cliched and tropey fighting with scoreboards. I'll probably check this one out from the library.
    Great review, Jen!

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  10. Um, YES, as soon as you said sparring and "scoreboard" I was like, "Omg, isn't that Divergent?!" I think books need to be careful when they follow too closely in the footsteps of something that's exploded into fame recently. *sigh* But I agree! When I read a book with a unique concept (like being on the moon adfjkald) I want it to actually BE UNIQUE.

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  11. I don't think this would be the nook for me. I enjoy a good complex plot, but it has to connect in some way. Thanks for the review! It's always nice to see what people think before I devote time to reading a book.

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  12. Yeah, the fighting for points trope is a bit overdone.....

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  13. Ugh. I grabbed this one, but now... I don't like that switch-up either and the fighting each other thing has never been something I've loved in a book. It's more of a suffer-through-it thing. It's not like it's enjoyable having the MC beat up and fight for her/his life and stuff. I would like more family and moon stuff too. I'll have to see what I think. Thanks, Jen!

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