Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review: THE WALL by Lauren Nicolle Taylor (The Woodlands Series #2)

Title: The Wall
Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Genre: YA / Dystopian / Action / Adventure
Published: October 2013

If you haven't read Lauren Nicolle Taylor's first book, The Woodlands (click for my review), then you're in for a dystopian treat

First, let us get past the gorgeous face framed by poofy hair on the cover and go into the details. Rosa, Joseph, and their friends have made it to a new group called The Survivors, who are enemies of the Woodlands and its rulers, The Superiors. From here on out, they will need to move because the Woodlands forces will be coming for them. There are tons of twists and revealing them would only diminish your experience of the story, so I will refrain. But there are sacrifices, and the relationship between Rosa and Joseph grows stronger. 

Joseph, wake up, wake up, wake up... 

She says it over and over. It’s her mantra, her prayer, her plea. But life doesn’t stop while he’s sleeping. With a newborn baby in her arms, Rosa's thrown into a new world, with new rules and a philosophy that sounds too good to be true. She’s sure they didn’t rescue her out of the goodness of their hearts. The Survivors must want something in return. 

The Wall finds Rosa eagerly entering a new life, yet struggling to keep the demons and ghosts of the past from dragging her backwards. She’s left so many people behind. 

There’s freedom in the Survivors’ world, more than she’d ever dreamed of, but there’s also secrets. The darkest of which pulls Rosa headfirst into a trauma, forcing her to reevaluate her past and pushing her to make a choice that threatens to destroy the tenuous, sewn-together family she’s built on the outside.

The pregnancy and experiences have changed Rosa, but I am so thankful that there is no cheesy, Hollywood-esque 180-degree turn in her character. Rosa is still Rosa, but she's learning to understand that there is more to people than what they seem like. Nonetheless, she still tends to classify people by their assertiveness.

Drama and tension brews during their stay in the old building with the Survivors. Taylor does splendid work of portraying the tension between Deshi and Rosa, as well as the changing relationship between Rosa and Apella. 

I'm a fan of the keen observations that Rosa makes to analyze those around her, even when she is wrong. She puts a lot of weight on people's body language. Appearances aren't everything, though. There is always a deeper story beyond a character's mannerisms, and I appreciate that. The sacrifices that characters make for what they believe is right are compelling, especially when it comes to people that Rosa had categorized as passive, the kind that avoided eye contact and kept their heads lowered. 

Plot-wise, it feels like this is the weird transition book in a trilogy, the awkward, in-between novel. The Woodlands had a clear plot focus: Rosa must escape this horrid system and she does. The third (and possibly last) book will wrap up everything and solve the problems. The middle book is in the uncomfortable position of developing and continuing what happened in the first book but also providing the momentum and beginning workings of the end, which will be wrapped up in the last book. 

Therefore, the plot in The Wall ambles around for the first half of the story. Many tensions explode into drama, but there is not much of an active central plot aside from her adjusting to Survivors society and mustering up the will to rise to meet the circumstances (and her child) until she realizes an important thing that she must do. There is people-drama yes, but a lot of it comes across to me as forced. I stayed with Rosa through the hurdles and many mini-plot arcs to make sure that she and Joseph would be okay, but the lack of direction for the first half of the novel made it hard for me to maintain interest. 

With that said, the last quarter of the novel contains the suspense and the focus that I've been waiting for. I find that I enjoyed The Woodlands more, however, in The Wall we get some time to meet a lot of the important characters up close, when they're not running to or from something. With Rosa, we see her grief continuing from the loss of Clara - quite realistically. I usually roll my eyes at how fast characters in novels seem to forget and move on from their grief over the loss of characters. Clara gets her appropriate mourning. 

I am looking forward to reading The Wounded, which will be the third installment in The Woodlands Series.  

Check out The Wall on: 

Thanks for reading! 

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