The Young World

The Young World - Chris Weitz *An ARC was provided by Little Brown Books in exchange for an honest review.*

The Young World was all the buzz at BEA this year - everywhere you went there were ads for it, even in the bathrooms! Since it's been awhile since I read a really good dystopian, naturally I got really excited about getting my hands on it, and I've been eagerly awaiting cracking this baby open since then. Sadly, this one didn't end up living up to it's own hype...not for me, at least.

The Young World started out with loads of potential. There's this virus that annihilated most of the world's population; the adults and the young kids are all gone. Only teenagers remain but when they turn into adults (around 18 years old or such) they start to get sick, and soon die. For some reason, the hormones that teens produce made them immune to the sickness, but the second their body stops producing said hormones - a.k.a. when they become adults, they're out of luck. No adults means that all types of media and technology went down with them, seeing as there are no adults left to run things. And considering all the teens have a pretty short life-expectancy; well, things have turned bleak pretty quick. You don't fear dying or killing when you know you have little to no time left.

Set in New York City, The Young World focusses on a tribe of teens, led by Jefferson, which is one of the story's narrators. Jefferson and his friends have made a more or less peaceful existence for themselves in Washington Square. They haven't taken to killing for no reason, the girls living with them are treated as equals, not play-things and they try to keep the peace whenever possible. The story is told in alternating point of views, switching every chapter from Jefferson to Donna, the main female of the tribe whom Jefferson also happens to have a crush on. While I had no issues with Jefferson's voice, Donna was something else. In an attempt to make these characters sound like true teenagers, author Chris Weitz (Director of New Moon and The Golden Compass to name a few) gave Donna major teen-speak. She spoke every sentence like she was asking a question, even when she was stating a fact - like she wasn't even sure herself of whatever the hell she was saying. And then she inserted 'like' into almost everything she said. At first, I figured I would get used to it, but to be honest I never did. Her chapters annoyed me on a mostly constant basis and I found myself wishing that Jefferson would be the only MC. I mean, it's not like Donna's chapters added much extra insight anyways.

So this crew has carved out a semi-peaceful existence amidst chaos, until they find a clue that might just lead them to an eventual cure to this sickness and save humanity. Then they set off on a quest all over New York, where they face one crisis after another. When they first set off, I was all for it. I loved the idea of exploring New York City, especially now that I've actually been there a few times. It was fun reading about familiar streets and places and actually recognizing them. Without getting into any spoilers, the stuff Jefferson and his tribe faced seemed to get more and more ridiculous as the story progressed. It's like they randomly found themselves in these far-fetched situations just for the sake of adding action to the plot. And to me, questing out in a hellish war zone set in NYC should have been exciting without even trying. Instead it just felt like Weitz was trying too hard. Not many of these trials felt like they added anything to the story, instead it was like they were filling up time till we got to the ending.

When we were privy to useful information, about the virus or how it all started, it was mostly in the form of info-dumps. And when combined with the random action sequences, lackluster romance and characters that ranged from average to worse, The Young World simply did not cut it for me. I had high hopes for a nice, quality dystopian to suck me in and never let go but this just didn't measure up.

This review was previously featured on my blog: Photobucket