Book Review - Jaded

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Currently drinking: Earl Grey tea with orange cream gingersnaps my mum made. :-)

Jaded by Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie
Star Rating: 4/5
TL;DR: Super enjoyable book, but lacks in the stakes department
Number of pages: 218
Release date: February 17, 2014
Series: Nirvana
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Buy the book: Amazon

Synopsis: (from Amazon) Jade has spent her entire life within the confines of the eye-color-obsessed Nirvana commune. She dreams of experiencing freedom, but travel to the Outside is forbidden. As Jade’s seventeenth birthday approaches, she realizes just how little she wants to follow the commune rules. She doesn’t want to undergo another eye color surgery, or immediately choose a life partner, or follow her parents' life paths. It seems easier to close her eyes to the future. Her grandmother Ruby’s murder makes Jade open her eyes wide for the first time in her life. She’s devastated yet determined to find the killer and the motive. With help from her mysterious friend Tyrian, and Peaches, the commune leader’s sweet daughter, Jade unearths dark secrets. Jade can’t continue conforming to an evil society, but she doesn't know anything about the corrupt Outside. If she resolves to flee and is caught, she'll be blinded. If she makes it, she may never see anything the same way.

Review: I didn’t actually buy this book.  My dad bought it from the author herself at one of their local street fairs, and he lent it to me to read while I was visiting them recently.  I was really dubious at first because I’ve become a bit tired of YA dystopian stories—I think the glut of them that have been coming out over the last few years has kind of deadened my interest—but the back blurb piqued my interest.  The crux of what caught me was the idea that this community functions around eye colors.  So I read it.

The main character, Jade, is made immediately likable because of her love for her grandmother, Ruby <—You’ll notice that all the characters are named for their eye color.  There’s a mystery surrounding this event that drives Jade to discover secrets about her community and herself, which I rather liked.  The technical details of said mystery are really well handled, though I had trouble with the motivations behind it (more on that later).  The story, save for one aspect, is not actually set in the future, which I found really interesting, as this created a dynamic that was unique to other YA dystopian stories.  The one piece of advanced technology that the community does have is optometry, allowing every member of the community to have vividly colored eyes.  I assume this also means that no one in the community suffers from degenerative eye diseases as well.  Despite not being set in the future, the community has all the hallmarks of a shadowy, secret-riddled dystopian tale of intrigue and discovery.  The pacing is also very good, and the author does a nice job of hinting at things that show up later.  It’s a quick read too, so if you want to pad out your reading list in a hurry, this is a good one to do it with.  The book is also edited well, which I also appreciate in self-published books.  I’ve read some that need a lot of editing love, but this one was well done.

So here’s what I didn’t like about the book—the motivations.  The motivation for what happens to Jade’s grandmother seems a bit shallow.  And the reasoning behind why this community was established in the first place is…odd?  I think it would make more sense if it was sort of religiously-culty (maybe the eyes are the window to the soul, so this community was created to focus on that?).  A lot of the emotional weight of this book didn’t work for me; the stakes just weren’t high enough to really enthrall me.  Though I am often complaining about YA stories not being focused enough on individual stories, so I have to forgive that a bit.

Recommend?:  Yeah.  It’s an enjoyable, quick read that makes you wonder about what’s coming next.