My dear bookish friends,
What must it be like to have only ever lived aboard a ship and to never have felt safe and stable land under your feet? Well, the protagonists of The Stranded could give us the answer to this question!
A huge thank you, as always, to TheWriteReads for my ecopy of this book and my spot on this blogtour (none of which has affected my rating or review in any case)!
Before I tell you all about the content of The Stranded and what I liked about it, can we take a moment to look at the cover? For some reason I felt so inspired by it (and by the one of the sequel too) that I decided to make three blogtour banners instead of the usual one – it was great fun working on them and I hope everyone likes the end result 🙂 Putting the other two here for you to check them out! But then, without further ado, let’s dive into the story!
About the Book
Welcome to the Arcadia.
Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States – a leftover piece of a fractured USA.
For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.
Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.
When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever . . .
Forty years after a virus and war (sounds familiar?) have changed society as we know it, and people have made their new home aboard The Arcadia, the vessel that was once a luxurious cruise-ship now holds a group of descendents of the first survivors.
The fact that there was a virus used in biological warfare and the US is put into a quarantine was getting way too close to my recent memory of the state of our world, but I could cope with it because this book is a YA dystopia and not a contemporary novel.
The stranded are now divided into groups of very poor and, on the other hand, very priviledged people. Everyone mostly wants one thing: a ticket to the Federated States, and so, most people work extremely hard under an almost military-style command, but will they ever really get to what they are working so hard towards, and get to put their feet on land?
The Stranded comes fully packed with a very intriguing cast of characters and alternating points of view. There is Esther – a studious girl who follows the rules and tries everything to finally get off the ship, she works super hard to get into the medical school on land; then there is Nik, a rebellious teenager who wants to uncover the truth so everyone once and for all sees what is truly going on; but we also get glimpses into Hadley’s mind: the bad guy who is in control of the soldiers and drones and makes sure nobody is overstepping any boundaries.
While in Nik and Esther, we see the typical heroes of young adult fiction (even though the two are very different character-wise), the ones that deal with the same problems most coming-of-age novels deal with: complicated feelings, fear for their families’ (and their own) safety and happiness, the wish to fit in (often hidden under neath layer upon layer of trying to rebel), we see Hadley for what he is as well: a villain through and through. While being the eyes and ears of the Federated States, he also has his own evil plan (as most villains do).
Even though the story build around The Arcadia – the all-too-realistic virus in connection with warfare, quarantines and an endangered society – hits the nerve pretty hard for everyone (like me) who tries to outrun exactly these hyper-realistic themes when picking up a book, I have to say the worldbuilding is really well done and grabs your attention from the start. The chapters are very short (which I like!), and the alternating perspectives made me turn the pages faster and faster (especially as I quickly found my favourites).
Oddly enough, I found the pace to be both fast and slow if that makes sense? Lol. Well, let me try to explain. Even though we are being thrown into the story right around when the rebellion takes place and the writing feels very quick and intense, it also takes a very long time to really understand who is on which side, who is fighting for what cause, and that’s what made it feel slow at the same time.
However, in any case, you get to the end very fast and that was when I wished I had gotten both books and got to read the sequel, The Exiled, right after this, because OMG the cliffhanger at the end of this book!!! If you plan on getting The Stranded and don’t want to be left hanging, believe me, you want to make sure to purchase BOTH books at the same time so you can read them in one go – I certainly have to hurry and get the sequel now!
Under its layer of your typical YA dystopia, The Stranded is full of some very hard-hitting, deep topics (like the ones mentioned above, but there is also a discourse about class, race, politics, poverty, to name but a few) that show what kind of great job the author has done to weave both of these elements into the storyline.
I didn’t read Divergent (eeek I know!!), I only saw the movie, but this book reminded me of it, as well as of The Hunger Games (obviously – the queen of YA dystopias!). The typical YA dystopian elements plus a light aura of sci-fi made for a gripping story in The Stranded! Since the roles that the characters played were a little cliché and the start was a bit of this fast/slow-mixture that I couldn’t quite explain, I’m taking off one star, and rate the book 4 stars!
If you’re a YA dystopia fan then this book mustn’t be missing on your shelves! Get it, get it now!!
Thank you all so much for reading, and do let me know if you pick up The Stranded!