SURRENDER. First, because POSSESSION, Elana Johnson’s debut novel exploring the dystopian world and characters inhabiting Freedom, simply amazed me. Here’s my review.
Second, because SURRENDER isn’t an ordinary sequel. While characters from the first novel play key roles, new characters are introduced and this is their story. It is the story of Raine, who despite being the daughter of the powerful Director Hightower, finds herself resisting the world of control in which she has been raised. It is the story of Gunner, who is falling for Raine despite who she is—and despite the sudden discovery that the woman he has always believed was his mother may not be that at all. This is what drives Gunner (perhaps even more than Raine’s persuasiveness) to join the Insiders on the night before he is recruited by Director Hightower.
On the run, Gunn says: “Every muscle in my body tensed. I was really doing this. Whatever this was. But I’d finally made my own choice. And it felt wild, dangerous. Perfect.”
The quote could be describing Elana’s unique and powerful writing style. Wild. Dangerous. Perfect. From the novel’s very first line (“Someone is always watching”), readers experience the novel almost viscerally. The reader feels the urge to hide along with the story narrators, feels lost in their nightmares, their traumas. Perhaps this is why the ending is such a gut-grabber (I never write spoilers so you’ll just have to read it yourself before you nod (vigorously) in agreement with me)!
SURRENDER is my favorite kind of novel because it works on multiple levels: plot, character, theme. It is an exciting and satisfying dystopian thriller, but most extraordinarily it is a deep musing on the complexities of identity and its relationship to love, friendship, family, mind and memory. It is a book that challenges the intellect and inspires the writer in you. As Raine comments at one point in the novel, it will leave your feelings “spiraled up, down, and around.” As any great read should.
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