Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 teacups
Maybe I’m being generous. Or unfair. I can’t decide exactly how I feel about Jordan’s latest young adult novel – Uninvited. I recently had my low expectations trampled on by her impressive contribution to the new adult craze – Foreplay – and couldn’t wait to see what more she had to offer. But Uninvited was a disappointment. It suffered from flaws in the very foundation of the story and the characters, even though the author’s writing was compulsively readable enough to make me sail through it in a day and still up my rating to three stars. It’s a combination of addictive, fast-paced plotting and a worn out, unconvincing story. It’s entertaining, but also has a disappointingly weak protagonist. It wasn’t bad and yet it could have been so much better.
There is much to celebrate and Uninvited will no doubt be an easy sell for many teens. The plot moves at a breakneck pace, dragging us into the action and drama from the very first chapter and delivering new punches at every turn. It reminded me somewhat of Divergent in this sense – I found myself simultaneously shaking my head at the ridiculous ideas I was asked to believe and reading on like a crazy person in my need to see what would happen next. Even in this you can see that Jordan is used to writing books for adults or “new adults” in the mature themes she doesn’t shy away from incorporating. There are plenty of descriptions of violence that aren’t sugarcoated for a younger audience… and I kinda liked that. In fact, this book contains that which is perhaps most important when writing a good dystopian book – a very real sense of fear, frustration and helplessness. I’ve read plenty of dystopian books that have failed to convince me that things are really that bad, but there’s no danger of that here.
The story is about a music prodigy – Davy Hamilton – whose life is ruined when she is tested for and found to have Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS), also known as the kill gene. Abandoned by her friends, feared by her parents and forced to change schools, Davy finds that other carriers like her might be the only people she can turn to. Even though the idea is a bit daft (well, it is), it sort of half works. I can see what the author was trying to do and many interesting ideas are brought to the table… about nature vs nurture, about humanity, about evil and hypocrisy, but I do think the romance dampens all the other powerful messages floating around. So many ideas are pushed aside by the spotlight stealing cliche of a good girl/bad boy romance. I thought we were going to learn something important but it turns out it’s another one all about being saved by lurrrve.
And I thought Davy was a weak character. It was probably a deliberate move in a bid to make us more sympathetic towards a girl who’d been accused of being a killer, but it actually made her more annoying. A lot of emphasis is placed on who she’s going to find to protect her – and many opportunities are set up for Sean to swoop in and save her ass – and she had a tendency to be mind-numbingly stupid. She stupidly puts herself in a lot of dangerous situations and constantly requires saving by Sean, neither fact particularly endeared me to either of them. But the worst bit of all was when Sean knelt over Davy, pushing her down into the bed, just to prove that she was vulnerable to anyone who wanted to rape her. It made me feel pretty sick.
Hmm, I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing with the second book. I think I might just wait and see what the reviews are like before making a decision. But I will look out for more of Jordan’s novels.