Dark Days by Kate Ormand

Dark Days - 

Kate Ormand
ARC provided by Sky Pony Press through Edelweiss

 

 Some vaguely alluded event related to climate change happened and almost all the world's species went extinct - the human race also suffered severe losses that number in the billions, seeing its population greatly reduced.
Right here it's already bad. This world building, if you can even call it that - I mean, it needs to be the absolutely basic foundation for a good book, not this indefinite mess!

Then walls were built when Sia was a baby to protect them from... something. Thus dividing populations into non-self-sufficient sectors in which more people were killed by the government because that makes sense?

These sectors are predictably conformist: a curfew where people are trapped inside of their houses for a specific length of time, same houses for everyone, same décor, same pay checks. Equality and no deviance from the norm.

The usual dystopian clichés.

Then it's announced that a New World (read: a new sector), better, more advanced than the rest is being built. People will be selected to find the best possible humans, who will then be moved to this New World. The rest of the human population will be slaughtered by a cyborg army. Sia's sector has been informed it'll be slaughtered in 15 days.

First of all, I'm already laughing, which isn't good. Slaughtered by a cyborg army?! 
LMAO okay.

But let's analyse the glaring scientific inaccuracies. They are going to select the best humans? What makes the best humans? Natural selection (which this isn't, this is selective breeding, which doesn't necessarily mean
"the best") has taught us that what makes an individual fit for survival depends on its ecological niche.
They're selecting a small part of an already small population, effectively creating a genetic bottleneck which will inevitably end up in a genetic homogeneous population. 
 
What happens if a new disease breaks out? What happens if another vague catastrophe hits them and no one has the necessary traits to adapt and survive it? You've already killed the rest of the population therefore cutting off your access to genetic diversity and the chance to save the human race...
How fucking stupid is this dystopia?!

So this book is already a failure when it comes to basic scientific research vital to its setting. But there are also huge plot holes:
- Why is the government so stupid when it comes to the survival of the human race?
- What happened for everything to end up like this?
- Why the fuck would you tell people with nothing to lose you will slaughter them in 15 days? So they can organise a rebellion? Even Princess Bubblegum knew not to make that mistake!

 

       
 
Of course we have to have the usual YA trope of absent (or as good as absent) parents. Sia's father is literally absent most of the time. Her mother cracked under the pressure and just watches people in the other sectors being slaughtered every day on tv. Yes, on tv. They're showing it on tv. I guess to make the inevitable rebellion's recruiting job easier?

Sia goes out by herself to get food. They haven't been getting any supplies from outside. Obviously everything is a mess, with people fighting for the last resources.
Even so Sia is amazed, she didn't think that, in this situation, going out for food would be dangerous. This is the first of many tstl moments for Sia.

While getting food she meets the supposedly hot - but instead extremely creepy Mace or Kline. You see, we don't know his name because he starts lying from the beginning. Mace or Kline is a special, special snowflake of a guy. In a dystopian walled up sector which enforces conformity in every way, this 18 year old has full tattoo sleeves. Because what this book needed was to sacrifice what little world building consistency it had just to have a faux-bad boy for the main character to lust after.

This creep, who is also a complete fucking stranger, immediately offers to walk Sia home and, being tstl, she agrees. Halfway through the walk she seems to come to her senses a bit, shoves this dude to the ground and runs for her life.
Here's the thing: if a girl feels so threatened by you that she pushes you away, then runs from you in fear, the correct response is NOT to chase her then tackle her to the ground, making her bleed.
But wait! He was actually justified in this full-on creepiness because there were people about to shoot them down.
Why? It doesn't matter.
Where did they get the guns in a literally walled in society? Irrelevant.
Because I'm betting this is just to set the precedent that, no matter how psycho and creepy this Mace or Kline acts, he will be justified in doing so.

This is a sector housing 416 people, yet Sia is constantly meeting new people. The average high-school has about 1000 students and you know almost everyone at least by sight. So wtf?!

Bear in mind that, this being an ARC, I am not allowed to quote any part of it - so you're spared my bitching about the endless "My Immortal" fanfic-worthy descriptions of what everyone is wearing, everyone's face shape, and the exact shade of everyone's hair, skin, and eyes. Be thankful, I guess...
But on that subject, basically everyone is white, of course.

Kyra, Sia's best friend, is under lock and key - her family still hopes to be selected and Sia hanging around their daughter is sure not to help matters. 

But anyway, as soon as Sia is kicked out of her bff's house, guess who is there, waiting, like a spider. That's right. Mace or Kline. He straight up admits he's been following her and her reaction is to just shrug it off and be happy that at least he's being honest with her. More importantly, he winks at her and her knees wobble,
her breath catches, her cheeks flush, plus several other physiological reactions indicating lust.
Because of a wink? What kind of wink... what.
 

 

Anyway, she has an awkward conversation with her dad where he asks her not to go out at night because it's dangerous. But she makes not promises. And here I thought the book told us people were literally locked into their houses at night.

After this Sia decides to read the note that creep Mace or Kline gave her. In it he writes that she's omg so special and he really saw something in her, perhaps a special snowflake like himself and she should totally meet him, a fucking stranger - more specifically at the precise spot he tackled her to the ground because if you can make things creepier, why hold back, you know?
Not that there was any need to hold back because, being tstl, Sia is going to meet him anyway.
 

 

But before the meeting she decides this is the perfect opportunity to "save" her bff and kidnap her from her family. And is all amazement when said bff thinks she is crazy and has no intentions of leaving her family when there is still a chance her family might be chosen for the New World, and even if they aren't... she's not
leaving her family. This is seen as crazy behaviour instead of its more usual name: common sense.

Her mum finally cracks and kills herself. Sia is sad for about 3 pages but then it's time to put on make-up and choose the perfect outfit to meet Mace or Kline! A dead mum can't kill romance ;) 
This book, however, is killing my spirit.

But anyway, it's time for fun races, and relaxing on the grass on top of the sector's hill, watching the lake, in the comfort of Mace or Kline's arms, while holding hands. With a creepy stranger. When your mum just died.

Mace or Kline is, of course, part of the rebellion and tries to recruit Sia, who is upset because he is totally ruining the moment! Besides she's accepted to die, and it's super rude that he hasn't and is trying to find a way to survive. Boys, am I right?

While running away from him, Sia meets Lilly. Lilly's family (Lilly included) were chosen for the New World. But Lilly is totally legit, you know? She's not about to survive to fight things from within and build a better society. No! She's staying here and totally dying with the non-chosen to prove a point: that she has integrity or whatever.
Basically what I call Ned Stark-stupid.

I don't need to go on with the review, anyone can guess that Sia is going to join the inept rebellion because of Mace or Kline (not because of any survival instinct), goes through training and blah blah blah.

None of this is original, of course, it's basically Under the Never Sky, with a touch of The Hunger Games, and Terminator - but without any of the interesting plots.

This book needs a better editor - not for the writing, the writing is technically skilled, but for the plot holes, for the glaring scientific inaccuracies, for the weak and inconsistent world building, for the tstl main character.
The book is not awful. It's just that it's not special either, it borders on mediocre, even if you're okay with all the YA dystopian tropes and the predictable plot.

But if I have to end a review with, "hey, it's not awful"...



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