Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: Stolen Voices by Ellen Dee Davidson

Title: Stolen Voices
Author: Ellen Dee Davidson
Published by: Lobster Press (2005)

My rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

This was a great book!

First of all, I have to recognize that, unlike every other YA dystopia today, this book does NOT turn into a whole trilogy. In fact, it doesn’t even have a sequel! This dystopia starts and concludes in a simple, quick, 188-page book, and it’s one of the things I love about it.

**Small Spoilers**

Plot: Actually, I’d have to say I loved this book for all the things that make it different from dystopias today: There was no cliffhanger ending. The writing was actually pretty decent. The main character has a best friend she truly loves, rather than a boyfriend. Speaking of which, there was absolutely positively NO wild love, romance, or lovestruck couples (which I much prefer, rather than a love-centered novel). Besides that, it was a short book, not drawn out at all. The plot got to the point quickly, without any additional drama, pointless scenes, or unnecessary characters.
And it was a clean, appropriate, action-filled YA dystopia. This book was definitely unique and different from an average dystopia and it was precisely what I loved about it!

Miri is a fifteen-year-old girl living in Noveskina. In her world, a sign of being an adult is finding your soul Talent and being Masked and Bonded with your age-mates. She has been told her whole life her history of the community she lives in: Before, there were Sound Wars, a devasting war that destroyed population. So the Masker arose, to Mask others and unite everyone in One Voice. There cannot be anymore sound wars if everyone has One Voice controlled by the one Masker.
Everyone around Miri—her best friend Jalene, her brother Darin—are all at work discovering their Talent, working at it, and preparing for the Demonstration in which they will show off their Talents. They prepare for the Masking and Bonding which will come soon after that as well. But Miri is different, and she hides it—she has no Talent. No Talent means life as lower-class. No Talent means not being Bonded with her friends she’s grown up with. No Talent means, essentially, not fitting in. When her parents—two of the city’s most important officials—learn of this, they find a way to grant her an extra year to find her Talent before Masking. Devasted to not be with her friends, Miri sneaks in to watch the others’ Masking—and is horrified by the result. When the Masker discovers her watching, he tells her he has no choice but to Mask her as a house servant.  What can Miri do now?

Writing: The writing was decent, as I’ve said earlier—better than your average YA by a longslide—and was very captivating. No secrets revealed, no answers given, until the last chapters, driving you to finish it and find out. Besides that, you come to love Miri and Jalene and all the others—you need to see how their story ends. I read this book in one day and found it very compelling and interesting. Miri’s relationship with her friend Jalene is portrayed perfectly, and I found her character very realistic; that her heart desire is to just return, see her friends, and be normal—again, differing from the cliché dystopian heroine whose sole desire is bring the dystopia down, no matter what the cost. There was no such emotion surging in Miri—despite the fact that in the end she does help defeat the Masker—overall she is not a defensive heroine but rather an average girl just looking to fit in.

I will say there was some cliché in this book, but there’s so much dystopia these days it’s hard to get away from it. I could have predicted Miri’s not-fitting-in and running away. And, of course, she’s the one who has the powers and can save everybody. But then again, what else does the writer do? Miri is not that connected with Jalene or Darin, and it just wouldn’t make sense for them to be the powerful one. So overall, I do think the author did a very good job.

So putting aside the areas of writing where it could have been better, I thoroughly enjoyed this dystopia that broke away from YA fads and was simply just good.  Intriguing characters and action-filled plotline, full of surprises and interesting twists, I found Stolen Voices a fantastic, quick read. 5.0 stars.

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