It’s been a hot minute since I read anything by Veronica Roth. I haven’t even thought of Roth since I finished Divergent which feels like forever ago. But when I saw a new adult dystopia from Roth I was instantly intrigued. Would it live up to the expectations and opinions I had? Keep reading this book review for my thoughts.
WHAT’S RIGHT IS RIGHT.
Sonya Kantor knows this slogan–she lived by it for most of her life. For decades, everyone in the Seattle-Portland megalopolis lived under it, as well as constant surveillance in the form of the Insight, an ocular implant that tracked every word and every action, rewarding or punishing by a rigid moral code set forth by the Delegation.
Then there was a revolution. The Delegation fell. Its most valuable members were locked in the Aperture, a prison on the outskirts of the city. And everyone else, now free from the Insight’s monitoring, went on with their lives.
Sonya, former poster girl for the Delegation, has been imprisoned for ten years when an old enemy comes to her with a deal: find a missing girl who was stolen from her parents by the old regime, and earn her freedom. The path Sonya takes to find the child will lead her through an unfamiliar, crooked post-Delegation world where she finds herself digging deeper into the past–and her family’s dark secrets–than she ever wanted to.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I feel like I rarely read any adult dystopias, so I had high, even if they were reserved, expectations for Poster Girl. But I gotta say, I was disappointed. If you asked me before hand what I was expecting, I would have said a gritty complex dystopia. And while there were some things I did enjoy – the setting and the thought put into the world building – I felt like Poster Girl lacked the depth I was searching for. Let me begin with the world since it was my favorite.
I enjoyed the gritty feel to Poster Girl‘s setting even if it felt a bit *cough* familiar. There’s this hyper vigilant 24/7 surveillance which is codified and gamified for obedience and control. These elements alone aren’t particularly unique, but Roth’s spin is that our MC, Sonya, is actually part of the old dystopian baddie government which was overthrown. And so Sonya and the other ‘previously law abiding’ citizens are now thrown into a complex where they live in a pseudo jail except with a bit more free reign.
But my main critique with Poster Girl is that it doesn’t go far enough. That the unique world doesn’t quite go far enough. This dichotomy between the previous government and this new one felt a bit too idealized and ‘black and white’ for me. I’m not sure if it’s just to plainly – for the reader – illustrate this contrast. However, for me it felt just a shade too surface level. Additionally, I realize that part of Poster Girl‘s story is Sonya’s own journey – into her past and her own beliefs.
But yet again this was an aspect that I felt didn’t go deeply enough into. I know that typically with ‘adult SF’ there’s less explicit statements, less “this good this is bad”, but I felt like Poster Girl didn’t fully sink into the ethical conflict. I’m not saying I needed a distinct sense of “WHAT IS RIGHT IS RIGHT”, but I feel like there’s a few different directions it could have gone into to make the conflict feel deeper. Overall, that’s probably the most compelling piece of the story – Sonya’s ethical conflicts – but I found myself wondering, at the end, if it went as far as it could go. Does that make sense? It’s hard to not spoil!
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That being said, if you’re just searching for any adult dystopia to scratch an itch, or want to read about how it would be from the Other POV in a dytstopian collapse, then you know where to find it. I guess for me I was just searching for something with a bit more grit and conflict. Find Poster Girl on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.