Where do you go when nowhere is safe? I asked myself that question all the while reading this book. It's 2032 and the world has been ravaged by a vicious plague. There are very few people left alive and most of those are the orphan children of the people whose lives were claimed by the plague. The United States is no more and is now known as The New America under the rule of The King.
Eve is a 12th year student at her school, a secluded all-girls school for orphans. She is about to graduate and become her class Valedictorian. Eve is known to be the best student in the school both academically and morally. Her biggest worry in the world being to nail her Valedictorian graduation speech and to gloriously lead her class into the building across the lake from the school, which to her knowledge will be where they will get to learn a trade (a career) then move on to the City of Sand, where she will live happily under the reign of The King.
At the school girls are taught that all men are evil and not to be trusted. Day in and day out they are taught about the dangers of the opposite sex. They are not allowed to leave the campus or swim into the lake and pretty much not allowed to go anywhere beyond the closed walls of the school. As Eve readies herself for her graduation speech, she catches sight of her school-mate Arden, getting ready to escape. Being the prim and proper Eve she was brought up to be, she does not hesitate to blow the whistle on Arden, only Arden stops her in time and tells her about the things she has seen beyond the school walls and the horrors that await inside the building Eve is about to lead her classmates into. Eve doesn't believe her but is so intrigued by what Arden has told her that she sneaks out that night, crosses the lake, and peeks inside the "trade" building. What she finds horrifies her and she realizes that Arden was right and girls from the school upon graduation are being used as breeders, or Sows as they are called at that time, forced to become pregnant over and over again against their will in order to populate the earth.
Horrified and shocked Eve sneaks back into campus not knowing what to do next, only she is caught by one of her teachers. Sure that she will be punished now that she is caught, Eve fears the worse. She is surprised by the fact that her teacher instead of scolding and punishing her, offers her a way to escape and helps her flee, giving her instructions to head West to a place called Califia, where she will be safe if she makes it. Eve makes a run for it and it's not long before she is exhausted and hungry and becoming weaker by the minute. Just as she is about to collapse from exhaustion she runs into Arden, who after some convincing agrees to make the trip to Califia together with Eve.
Along the way they encounter a boy, Caleb, who helps them flee the king's army, who they find out are specifically looking for Eve. Eve has been singled out by the King to become one of his concubines, a "privilege" she earned by being smart and beautiful, only once the King singles you out there is no escaping and has the whole army relentlessly searching for her. Even, Arden, and Caleb manage to escape and hide out in an underground all-boys base, where they stay for some time due to Arden falling ill. As time passes underground, Eve makes friends with the younger boys that live there and teaches them how to read and write, and slowly falls for Caleb, unleashing a series of events that will test their love and devotion to each other.
I don't want to give away what happens after this point because I think it is pivotal to the book-reading experience. Anna Carey tells a captivating story. This book is a page-turner to say the least. I found myself staying up half the night and rushing to finish it the next morning. It was that good. I finished it in less than a day sneaking page reads during breaks at work. It is confirmed for a trilogy and to be made into a TV series by the creators of The Vampire Diaries. I give this book 5 stars. It is not very long and the writing flows so easily you can fly through it in no time. Kudos to Anna Carey for this wonderful creation.
(Originally reviewed at JJiReads.blogspot.com)