Saturday, March 8, 2014

Book Review: THE WOUNDED by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

The Wounded
by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Book 3 of The Woodlands Series

Published: February 28, 2014

Note: I was given an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Despite the controversy over Rosa's character (let's face it: she has a strong personality, and we probably wouldn't get along very well), I thought it was realistic for all the trauma she has gone through. Her determination to make things right for her family is also what distinguishes Rosa as a badass heroine. I actually thought Clara in the first book was some sort of lovable freak of nature. How does one go through such horrific things (like being pulled away from your family, forced artificial insemination) and still be nice and pleasant? One would become a tiger, trying to protect whatever they have left. 

And that's exactly what Rosa is. She is a protective tiger, ever so ready to protect her new-found family. Following her adventures from the second novel, she has become reunited with her dad, Pelo, but holds resentments against him for abandoning her as a child for the cause. With father and daughter reunited once more, they have to go back to The Wall, where the Survivors live. The path is paved with dangers, and once they return, they have to figure out what to do.

One of the most beautiful things about this series is the concept of an alternate family, one that Rosa has found among the Survivors and formed with a group of people of many different temperaments. There is no conventional, close-knit biological family, such structures had been destroyed by the Superiors by separating each generation from the previous one after the children come of age. 

Another concept that is more deeply explained here is the All Kind versus One Kind. The All Kind "look" idealized by the Superiors features black hair, a particular "caramel"-toned skin, and bright, blue eyes, the supposed mixture of of features from different races into one All Kind race. Which is bogus, since blue eyes are a recessive trait. As a result, Rosa has noticed Woodlands soldiers with "unnaturally blue" eyes that look watery or irritated due to the use of contacts. Her skin is seen as too dark, and marks her as One Kind, with unique phenotypes not shared with the All Kind. 

We get a view of the larger world that the Rosa, Joseph, and their friends live in. It's not just Superiors vs. Survivors; there are countless factions out there, and we get to meet some of these scattered groups of people who function outside the two forces. 

One thing I would have liked to see more of was a larger back story to Apella, since she is on the cover. She remains this side character, obviously tormented with guilt. She is redeemed in the end, but for the most part, her role in the novel is defined by what she does for Rosa (even though she is heroic and noble) as opposed to her own secret past. She dies a mystery, which I wouldn't mind so much if she weren't on the cover.

There are a few questions I have about the characters' knowledge of certain cultural references. I'm not sure how prominently religion is taught in schools, but Rash makes a Biblical reference about Samson (177), and I blinked because it wasn't something I'd have expected him to know. 

For the most part, Taylor is graceful and adept at describing Rosa's emotions but some lines in this novel make me giggle: 
  • "I hadn't breathed in minutes" (203). ...So wouldn't she be dead? 
  • " own arteries splitting inside me" (302). WHOA there. Wouldn't you be dead, Rosa?
  • "The air was as cold as an icicle stabbing my eyes when I woke" (311). Okay. Granted, this was a simile, and therefore truly figurative. But if this were truly how cold it was, Rosa would not have described her coldness in a few sentences as, "My body shook a little" (311). If the air were that cold, I wouldn't just shiver; I would be incapacitated. Or maybe I'm just a San Diegan wuss when it comes to cold. 

I get that it was intended to be figurative (I hope, otherwise Rosa would be a walking, asphyxiated mess of exploding arteries), but they are described literally and therefore these lines ultimately gave my mind a funnier picture. Teehee. :)

Overall, I enjoyed the storytelling in this novel. Here, there is a clear direction, a definite purpose to the Survivors' actions, propelling them forward. The suspense kept me turning the pages. Intrigued by the characters and what they were capable of, I could just pop open the book on my e-reader and be sucked right into the story. 

The Wounded has become my favorite book in this series so far, and I look forward to the fourth installment. 

My rating: 

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