America, in the distant future. The world that once was has been decimated by the plague. Orphans were enrolled into schools and on the eve (hah.) of Eve’s graduation from an all-girl’s school, she discovers the actual horrifying fate of the new graduates. She escapes and her life is forever altered, now a disillusioned girl on the run. Eve and another student who managed to escape set out to Califia, a far-off distant land that they know to be a safe haven. Along the way, they meet Caleb, a boy living in the wild with other males. Eve wants to trust him but her brainwashed upbringing, that all men are evil, keep nagging at her. When the King’s troops start hunting for them, Eve must make some tough decisions in order to survive.
Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood for another “mysterious school withholding information from the students” type of book – and granted, that premise isn’t the main plot of the book – but Eve took me a little while to get into. I liked that Carey kept the King in the City of Sand and the reason why Eve was being hunted a mystery. It made me want to keep reading, to find out what the “meaning of life” was to them. I also enjoyed the subtleties that Carey brought to this dystopian narrative. Eve scrounges for food and tosses aside a $100 bill, showing the lack of relevance for money in a world that knows no paper currency.
Nothing about the title character made her particularly likable to me though. She’s sheltered, confused and selfish – made all the more evident in a pivotal scene of the book. However, it was that selfish moment that finally got me on board with the story. That climactic scene propels the otherwise stagnating narrative to an emotionally gut-wrenching ending that sets it up for the sequel. The finale of this book isn’t necessarily a cliffhanger, as I could see it as a standalone in a way, but it opens up the possibilities of more story development. I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more about the mysterious City of Sand and its leader.