The Scourge by A.G. Henley
My rating: 1 of 5 teacups
This book was given up at 20% into it, and I’m surprised I made it that far. Instead of writing about an overall take on the book, I’d like to break it down piece by piece as I had highlighted parts that made no sense. Wow, for not making it very far in the book, I’ve got 19 pages of notes on the kindle. Shall we begin?
“I grew up in the forest. I know every path, and the position of every tree and bush.” (7%)
“I wrap my hand around Eland’s sapling-thin arm–roots and creeping weeds on the forest floor have sent me sprawling more often than I want to remember.” (1%)
“I might be terrified and disoriented, but I don’t need a Lofty to give me directions in the forest.” (8%)
I didn’t really care for Fenn by the time I stopped, and it all started with those examples. She was born Sightless, and at first I was in complete understanding of her having fallen in the woods (even though it wasn’t clear about when in her life falling was an issue), but then she goes on to be a jerk about knowing everything, and I’m like, oh-you’re spechul, that’s right. She flipped from being nervous about not having a guide in the woods, to being some kind of pace counting baddass. My first thought when she mentioned the falling, was how in the hell are you supposed to be the only person capable of getting water if you can’t keep from falling?
She talks about how there are a million thoughts in her head (when she first goes to get the water) about sounds, smells, scary stories, memories of the creatures screams, all while apparently keeping the pace count in her head, and then adds singing to all that. And keeps count. Because it’s the counting that she uses to navigate; which I’m not saying isn’t logical, just that the cacophony in her head makes it harder to believe she wouldn’t lose count.
“When a boy asks a girl my age, seventeen years, to dance at the Summer Solstice celebration, it usually means he’s singled her out as his partner–for life, not just for the dance.”(2%)
(Talks about her lifelong friend and then) “But…maybe I’m just not ready to partner.”(2%)
(talks about her hair) “–and a thrill runs through me. I wonder if I’ll be asked to dance tonight.” (2%)
“It can’t hurt to look my best”(2%)
“”I don’t want to be the only one not asked, you know?”” (Callie)(2%)
“I do know, although I think I’m more willing to suffer the humiliation of not being asked than to agree to partner for life with whoever might feel like asking me today.”(2%)
“”Maybe it’s time for a new tradition.””(4%)(Fenn says–as she goes to greet the Lofties that come every year to the Solstice Celebration)
“There’s no rule against dancing with them, but that’s only because no one has ever tried. Aloe–not to mention the rest of my people–might be furious with me. I decide I don’t care. At least I’ll have made my own choice.”(5%)
“”Peree? Would you like to dance?” He doesn’t say anything. I bite my bottom lip. “You know, dance? I’m not bad, really. I won’t even step on your feet much.”(5%)
Sigh. So many things about this annoy me that I almost don’t even want to talk about them. If she didn’t want to partner with her friend, who was hinted at being the guy to ask her to dance, then why would she ask her new Keeper and make it sound like it was only a dance?! How did anyone learn to dance at all since the dance equaled marriage, lol. The whole thing was just too much of a contradiction to satisfy me, and Fenn wasn’t a baddass in asking Peree with the information we’re given. I wasn’t impressed.
Now for information on those horrifying Lofties.
“All the Lofty men are named for birds, while the women have ridiculous names like Sunbeam, Dewdrop, and Mist.”(5%)(view spoiler)[Eye roll. Because Fennel and Aloe are so much better. (hide spoiler)]
“The Lofties usually give us more warning when the Scourge is near. It’s their part of our uneasy bargain.”(6%)
“And what about Peree? He’s kind. Concerned. Funny, even. Things Lofties aren’t supposed to be. I’m not supposed to like him.”(10%)
“We don’t talk much about the Exchange, either. It only reminds us why we hate the Lofties.”(11%) –“Generations ago”–is when it all happened I guess.
“People with dark coloring were arbitrarily forced to the forest floor to become Groundlings.”(11%)
“The fair-haired, light eyed children are taken by the Lofties to live high above the ground, in the sunlit warmth and security of their tree-top aeries. The dark babies are taken by us, to live in fear of the Scourge.” (view spoiler)[I was a lofty baby, born with the wrong coloring, and without sight. I often wonder who my natural parents were. If they were relived to see me go. Raising a Sightless child in the branches of trees can’t be an easy prospect. (hide spoiler)]
I don’t like anything about this caste system, and there isn’t any other explanations up to the point that I gave up. It doesn’t make any kind of sense! We have no idea what the year is, we don’t know how MANY generations ago shit went to hell, and the way they have divided the people lacks all logic!! On top of that, to make it sound as though those the people wouldn’t have fucking revolted pissed me off! Who in their right mind is going to think that if you’re left on the ground with zombies, while your neighbor is safely away from their reach, that you wouldn’t fucking change things!! We’re told that the Scourge leaves, and when they’re there, they only stay for a few days at a time (a week once), so what the fuck prevents the Lofties from getting their own damn water, or for that matter, why haven’t either people created a damn storage system?! This chick is using bags, and a fucking sled, to gather water. Making multiple trips with the Scourge surrounding her in order to get water, and meanwhile, her Keeper is killing them but she never once trips over a dead body (he does warn her two different times about stepping to the side, but it was after she’d been standing still. There are times when she’s walking and he’s shooting, but magically nothing unexpected ever comes in contact with her).
I mean really. I just can’t even.
The Scourge, or Fleshies, or flesh-eaters:
“They roam the forests, reeking of festering flesh, consuming anything living. People who survive the attacks become flesh-eaters themselves. Death is better.”(3%)
“They only move on when they’ve exhausted their food source, the animals–and humans–who rely on the fresh water to survive. Groundlings have tried over the years, but we’ve never been able to find another source of water. It’s risky to explore very far from the caves, because we never know when the flesh-eaters will come. So we’re stuck, with the Lofties, with the Scourge.”(6%)
“The caves are safe. The flesh-eaters don’t come in…”(6%)
“The Scourge typically stays for two or three days, but they could stay longer. Sometimes even a week or more. The elders didn’t speak of those times.”(10%)
Tell me why the Groundlings wouldn’t have just started living in the caves if that’s one sure-fire way to stay safe?! Seriously?! They say they can’t leave the caves until the Scourge has left, but yet the arrows that Peree shot them with kills them, so why the fuck don’t the groundlings make some fucking weapons!!! Or, better yet, why haven’t they made some fucking boats and taken to living on the lake since the Scourge can’t swim?!
Furthermore, this bit about Fennel’s protection from them made no sense to me.
“I’m supposed to be safe from the Scourge, like Aloe, but I haven’t been tested. I will be soon.”(3%)
“For a moment I wonder if my protection will hold, but I push the thought away.(7%)
“My protection from the creatures was confirmed, and it gave them a new respect for me.”(10%)
“I’m not sure I’ll live to see the morning after the Three discover my duplicity.”(16%)
“…serious lapse in judgment that may have contributed to the deaths of several Groundlings.”(18%)
“And you will spend the night in the forest, among the Scourge, as a reminder that you can either stand together with your community…or you will stand alone.”(18%)
Let me get this straight–testing Fennel to see if she wouldn’t be EATEN was simply finding out if…they wouldn’t eat her on her way to get water the first time?! I had assumed they’d captured one and would see if it shrunk away from her or something, but no, it was ‘hey girl, it’s your duty now to provide water to the whole tribe, so get going, and I hope you don’t die.’ Dumb! Then I start wondering, well I wonder all over again, why she would be the only one to get water as a Sightless (other than Aloe, who is her foster mother, and just stepped down from water duties to become a member of the council I guess), and they clearly have no qualms about her safety. In fact, they decide to punish her having given the Lofties their water rations against their wishes, by possibly condemning her to die outside the caves while the Scourge is there?! NO FUCKING SENSE! In fact, the whole issue of them not wanting to give the Lofties their water that day was stupid. Why in the name of gawd would they want to antagonize the people they admit gives them protection from the zombies?! Fennel does ask this, which was good, but still. It didn’t make sense.
To sum up my feelings in pictures…