Book Review: Plus One

Book Review: Plus OnePlus One by Elizabeth Fama
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on April 8th 2014
Pages: 384
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Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge-a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece-a day dweller, or Ray-she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray. Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

thoughtShe is from the Night. A smudge. He is from the Day. A ray. Together, they will break the boundaries.

Plus One is a thrilling ride. One of discovery, hope, and love. A story that goes beyond just being another romance or dystopian tale.

Sol is a nobody. A smudge who does not have a bright future ahead of herself. She works in a factory. Night in. Night out. It is mindless, boring work. But none of that matters. All that matters is her Poppu is dying. All he has is her… and her brother who left them years ago. When Sol discovers her brother now has a child, she will do anything. Give up everything to make sure her Poppu will meet this child. Even if it involves her giving up whatever future she has left.

Plus One started out feeling like any other dystopian type book. Weird government changes. Hints of a rebellion. A boy and a girl mixed up in things they shouldn’t be. Early on, it was clear Plus One is different.

Night and Day. The world of Plus One revolves around its people sticking to their designed scheduled. You are a Day, aka a ray, or a Night, aka a smudge. If you are a Day, then you basically are from the higher class. The smartest, most worthy citizens are Days. In contrast, the workers, the poor, the lesser people occupy the Night class. Strangely, Plus One does not put much emphasis on the Day / Night divide. There is no out in the open prejudice against from either group towards the other. Nor is there any prejudice against any other group.

Plus One stems from a single event in our history and takes us on a journey via a different timeline. The shared event is the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. In this timeline, the President put people to work on opposite shifts (Day and Night) in order to attempt to control the outbreak. The government liked the productivity of the people so much that they decided to keep the newly formed shifts and make it permanent. For me, this element was a stretch at best. Even now, I am not really sure I get the point of the Night / Day split. In the historical context given, sure, I understand. But why so many years later is it still going on? Why do the people just accept it? None of that makes sense. It basically just is.. so as the reader, you are to accept it.

Dystopian element aside, I really enjoyed Plus One. Partly due to the romance. Partly due to the family ties.

Not so instant love. In the beginning, I had fears of an instant romance. But it wasn’t!! The romance blends the past and the present together nicely. It was a little predictable, but it was so sweet I didn’t care. I don’t want to give away, so we will leave it at that.

At the heart of Plus One, is the family element. It plays a big part for both Sol and D’Arcy. While their family elements are different, both struggle with the Night / Day split in their own ways. Poppu stays in the background for the most part, but everything Sol does, she does for him. It is through most flashbacks that the reader gets to know Poppu, and you can’t blame Sol one bit for the lengths that she will go to for him.

Verdict

Heart-breaking. Sweet. Recommend with some reservations.

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