Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bookanistas: SURRENDER by Elana Johnson

Every once in a while I write a review that doesn’t follow my standard Thursday format. I’m breaking the mold today for 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.

Want more Bookanista book love?
Elana Johnson can't get enough of See You At Harry's
Shannon Messenger shares some YA cover lust
Shelli Johannes-Wells talks about the cover for The 13th Sign--with a contest!
Nikki Katz gushes about Surrender
Jessica Love has feelings for The List
Katy Upperman lays it on the line for The Book Thief


Veray said...

I totally agree with what you have said. I also got so involved in the characters that a few days after I finished reading it I missed them and had to sit down and read about them again.

Sarah @ Breaking the Binding said...

I really did love that this wasn't an ordinary sequel, I ended up loving Raine and Gunner far more than I did Vi and Jag and Zenn. They just grabbed my attention more firmly and I couldn't turn away.

Vivien said...

Sounds like a real roller coaster ride!!! Which I just love. Page turners are definitely some of my favorite reads. Cannot wait to read it myself!

Katy Upperman said...

"...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."

This sounds exactly like what I'm in need of right now. Great review, Stasia... Can't wait to read Elana's follow-up novel!

Stasia said...

Cool that you agree about getting involved with the characters, Veray & Sarah.
Vivien & Katy--SURRENDER is definitely an awesome read. Hope you have a chance to enjoy it!
Thanks for your comments!

the story siren said...

wasn't this book simply fabulous! i adored it! I really can't wait to visit this world again!