24 January 2013

The Disappeared by C. J. Harper

The Disappeared by C. J. Harper
Release Date: January 31, 2013 (UK)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Source: Publisher
Goodreads Stars: 4
Rating: Essential

In a future where children are segregated into institutions that range from comfortable “Learning Communities” to prison-like “Local Academies”, seventeen-year-old Jackson is an academic high flyer, living in a top Learning Community and destined for a position in the Leadership. But when he is sent with his best friend Wilson to deliver a package to a factory block, the two boys are attacked, leaving Jackson badly beaten and Wilson dead.

Confused and upset, Jackson returns to his Learning Community only to be dismissed by his teachers who claim not to know him. Sent to an Academy, an institute set up to train factory workers, Jackson finds himself immersed in a world that couldn’t be further removed than the comfortable life he’s used to; a harsh, violent, semi-articulate society where the students have created their own hierarchy based on fighting ability.

Using his wits to survive, Jackson starts to realise that his whole life has been based on half-truths. And in order to survive he needs to expose the lies that surround the Academy and find out the truth about who he really is. As he builds alliances and begins to educate those closest to him, a plan for rebellion and escape gradually comes into shape...

Fast-paced, page-turning, moving, yet with a streak of dark humour, The Disappeared is a very British dystopia, with shades of Orwell and Huxley. - Goodreads

The Disappeared is intriguing, and entirely gripping. Once I started, I couldn't stop reading! I was captivated from the moment Jackson got sent to the Academy, after his records were deleted from the school files.

I was really impressed by how the author made this so dark and gritty. I love young adult novels that get really into their settings like this one does. I was honestly shocked at some of the things that happened in this book, both in and out of the Academy. This is a proper dystopian, none of this fluffy stuff that you sometimes see in YA.

It took me a long time to grow to like Jackson. In the beginning he thought he was above his peers at the Academy, and he saw them all as stupid thugs since they didn't speak like he did (more on that later). This aspect of his character was the most annoying and disgusting thing, and I honestly felt like stabbing him in the eye. I know, I know, it's how he was raised, but still. No me gusta. Luckily, since the author is a great one, there was character development in there and he got over himself. I still think he has a long way to go, though.

The conditions in the Academy were simply dire. It was dirty, the guards didn't do their jobs, the hierarchy within the students was a mess, the education sucked balls... and it was all brilliant. I've said time and time again that I love the dark stuff, and this is about as dark as it gets. The students all fought one another for a ranking, which was something that I really enjoyed reading about because it reminded me of gladiators, and gladiators are AWESOME. I just have a Spartacus-oriented mind, okay? I love everything related to it.

I said above that the students at the Academy didn't speak like Jackson. That's because they haven't been taught how. Their vocabulary is dismal, and there were several times when I cried because I just felt so bad for them. They were treated like animals, to be honest, and the fact that no one took the time to teach them how to even say sorry was heartbreaking.

I think Kay, the awesome fighter turned love interest, is going to annoy a lot of people in this book. I personally loved her, but she does some things that I know a lot of people don't like - even things that I don't normally like to see a character do. However, I think her ways were totally understandable considering the situation she was in. She did what she had to do.

Overall, I thought this was awesome. C. J. Harper is a very talented storyteller, and can really play with those heart strings. I just wish I had liked Jackson more than I did!  Nevertheless, this is a great dystopian novel, and I'd recommend it to those who wish to read something grittier than they normally do. Give it a go!

1 comment:

  1. You really make me want to read this book! I am going to include your review in my Blogger Shout-Outs this week. I'm a sucker for dystopian novels!


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