Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Univited

Uninvited (Uninvited, #1)Title: Uninvited
Author: Sophie Jordan
Series: Uninvited
Volume: 1
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Release Date: January 28, 2014

A Quick Introduction: When Davy Hamilton tests positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, she's automatically branded a killer. Davy hasn't ever hurt anyone, much less killed, but she still loses everything: her friends, her boyfriend, her acceptance to Julliard. Suddenly she's an outcast, considered less than human,  and she's practically alone, nobody but fellow HTS carriers for company.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: Set in the near future, this novel has an interesting premise, though sometimes the characters and plot decreased the impact.

Review: I really liked the premise of this one and found it disturbingly plausible. In the real world, there are studies liking psychopathy with certain genes, though this is an ongoing area of research. In this book, which is set a few years in the future, the so-called "kill gene" has been identified. This is a gene that, if present, predisposes the carrier to violence and also appears to be linked with psychopathy, the effects of the gene are being referred to as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, or HTS for short. With a rising homicide rate, the government of the United States requires that people be tested for the gene, and carriers are placed in a database and monitored, and may be marked with a tattoo around their neck. If someone is found to be a carrier, viewed with fear and hatred, even if they haven't done anything.

Davy is a musical prodigy, she plays multiple instruments and sings. She also has close friends and a boyfriend. She generally a well-liked, and well-adjusted person. She does seem a little too perfect sometimes. When her test comes back positive, suddenly she loses all that. Her parents walk on eggshells around her, her former friends are openly hateful and society in general doesn't treat her like a human being. Now she's viewed as a potentially violent psychopath who just hasn't snapped yet- but inevitably will.

 I found myself feeling sympathy for her as she tries to maintain a brave face, and tries to prove that she isn't about to start murdering people left and right. She's treated awfully, and, when she lashes out, it's viewed as the first sign of her snapping, rather than an innocent girl losing her temper with everyone who has been treating her like a monster. She's fearful of herself as well because she's scared that their right- some of the HTS carriers clearly show signs of a lack of empathy and enjoy inflicting pain. There were moments where she herself fears that maybe she would be willing to, or even enjoy, hurting another person if necessary. This said, from the reader's point of view, she clearly isn't a psychopath- she has empathy, and feels things like nervousness, shame and regret. While it was probably realistic, there are times where she made reckless decisions, from which she then had to be rescued.

The plot is mostly Davy trying to come to terms with, and survive in spite of, her new status as a volatile kill gene carrier. She relises that she will have to become stronger and tougher to survive. This I found interesting, since, by branding her as a killer, the society she lives in has made her more likely to have to do so. This made me wince a little, because it is generally agreed that psychopathy is, at least in part, a result of environment (nature vs. nurture if you will). People do questionable things when they are afraid, and there are people taking advantage of the fear in the populace. There was some action, which was pretty well done. The consequences of having the gene were one of the main focuses of the story, the other part was the romance.

The romance wasn't something that I particularly enjoyed- it was just kind of there. There were times when Davy seemed a little too dependent on the love interest, Sean, another carrier, which is something that I don't typically like in a relationship. I didn't really feel much about him one way or the other. He's lived with the carrier status a lot longer that Davy has, and has had to toughen up and become a lot colder toward the world. He had to rescue Davy from dangerous situations that she'd gotten into frequently. One advantage is that it shows that they are both capable of caring about another person, which isn't exactly a classic symptom of HTS- it seems as though HTS is supposed to make the carrier a sociopath, incapable of empathy. Their relationship, as well as friendships with a few other carriers, who both seem capable of caring about people, show that having the gene probably isn't the guarantee it is treated as.

The quality and style of writing of the is book was overall fine. The story is mostly told in first person, from Davy's point of view, so everything she goes through is being told first hand. There are occasional excerpts from newspaper articles, reports, phone calls and other forms of correspondence that set a tone for the outside world, which contributed a little to the atmosphere of the story. A few more of those might have made the world a little more vivid.

Overall, I found the premise quite interesting, and I will probably be picking up the sequel, despite some aspects that I found less than enjoyable. I would like some more background for the gene and how it works- and a list of the symptoms of HTS.

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