When I first started reading Unworthy, I was quickly intrigued and enthralled by the writing. As I read on, that feeling subsisted and developed. I thought the chapters were just right in size, the characters were interesting and promising, as well as the concepts of this world. We are introduced to Arcadia’s surroundings almost as if we are reading her diary. Her reality slowly unravels and, with each new piece of information, I became more involved in it and wanted to know what came next. I was instantly a fan of this main character, who seemed strong but, at the same time, so real. When you can feel what the characters feel, when you experience such empathy, you know you are reading a great book.
The book has some things in common with other dystopias. In Arcadia’s world, people as herself who live in the Hubs are given completely functional, practically self-sustaining homes, jobs and protection. In exchange for what? Why, their freedom of course. But Dia’s price is even steeper, because she is an Unworthy. She was marked that way since birth, and through the book we find out just what exactly that entails. Her grandfather keeps telling her she is destined for great things, but Arcadia can’t see how, since she cannot control her own fate. She is not introduced as rebellious per se, more like someone who realizes things others do not. And wonders a lot. About why things are the way they are, about what’s out there… I am sure the way her grandfather raised her had a great part in that.
Discovering Arcadia’s world and seeing her day to day life progress was a pleasure. Some scenes which others found slow paced only contributed to me getting more involved in the story. I got to know several of the characters, each with their own voice, who they were, what they wanted, how they faced and viewed life. I got to cherish simple things we take for granted like swimming in the ocean. I was completely transported and for that I was grateful.
All that was in the first few chapters. Then Captain Alex Hayes is introduced. He is supposed to transport her to Polis city and deliver Arcadia to the General. During their trip to the city, I kept thinking how these descriptions could get dull, but they never did, the author always managed to slip something in each chapter that made me excited and wanting to know what came next. That is quite a challenge, especially in fairly small chapters.
I had a bit of a hard time figuring Alex out and wrapping my head around him. He is not your typical main character’s love interest. As I read, I understood that his soldier mode was the mask, as opposed to the way he acted around the hubbites, for instance. What I don’t get is the way he treated Arcadia, always referring to himself as her protector. He’s a soldier, he was supposed to escort her, unharmed as possible yes, but ultimately to deliver her to the General, and he let her roam free as if she had a choice in it at all. And when she leaves him and he says he understands because he had failed to protect her… I don’t know, it just didn’t work for me. That and how a relationship formed over less than a week changes so abruptly once they are stuck in a cell together, practically making love promises. I didn’t feel any progression and that put me off.
Then there were a couple of things which I did not understand and wonder if they will be approached in the sequel. Namely, why Matthias insisted on having Arcadia marked, saying he would not take her if she was not, and the whole thing with Kassandra’s family. When Arcadia asks her how she knows Alex, she says he grew up with her son. But when later Arcadia asks her if her brother was real, Kassandra said that no, that fabrication was necessary because otherwise she would have been Firstborn, which would complicate things. So, which is it? Is Arcadia’s brother real or not? Is he real but younger than Arcadia? That means he’d be quite a few years younger than Alex, can’t see them growing up together like that…
What happens to Firstborn who are deemed unworthy? Are they still sent to the Polis?
Oh and I never understood why other people didn’t swim in the Hubs, maybe I missed something.
At the end of the day, I had a good time reading Unworthy and would definitely read the sequel. I am baffled that this is the author’s first book. It has very few typos and is written so well. I am sure Joanne will be very successful.
Feel free to check out the buddy read on this book here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2127544-unworthy—dec-21st-14
Read from December 21 to 26, 2014
I would like to thank the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.