Sunday, August 4, 2013

Double Review: Zoo - Tara Elizabeth

Tara Elizabeth
Series: The Enclosure Chronicles, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Mediocre at best
On Goodreads

If this book could be summed up in one word, it’d be this: average. The writing style was average, the plot average, and the characters average. Cries. The premise of the novel is actually really enticing: we follow a teenager, Emma, after her “death”-by-car-crash into the future (around three centuries later). She is captured and put into a human zoo, where the inhabitants of the new dystopian society of the future come to the zoo to learn about how their ancestors lived. I was beyond ecstatic as books about the future always have some interesting plot twists and crazy spins, while this was relatively boring. (Well, I’ll be fair, there were a couple plot twists in the later half of the book that made up for the terribly dull first half).

Of course, no YA novel is complete without a little bit of romantic teenage angst filled drama. The first half of the book is complete with a love square between our main character Emma, James (a cowboy), Kale (a beaut surfer), and Victoria (a priss from the ages of petticoats and bloomers). To be clear, I ship Emma and Kale, but ONLY because Kale is awesome.

This book was very Hunger Games, almost so that it was borderline cliché. Not to mention, the sentence structure and word choice were astoundingly poor in that they didn’t draw me further into the story, but instead, pushed me away. It’s quite sad, really. As for the characters, they’re all pretty cliché – Kale is the sweet native Hawaiian boy while Victoria is the modest young woman while the King is as stereotypically French as possible. Not only that, but none of the characters actually grew as people: Kale is perf from the beginning, the Keepers are evil from the beginning, and none of that changes. Victoria seems to make a change, only to be wishy washy and change back and forth from serious to petty which honestly drove me nuts. Elizabeth tried to show Emma as a character that evolved, but sadly, it wasn’t written well so it wasn’t something I could empathize with. Ugh. Nothing drives me crazy more than static characters.

Moreover, the romance in the novel was bleh. It was obvious what I shipped from the beginning but the way it played out was fast and unreasonable and obviously very rushed. The spacing of time, even in a fantasy dystopia, needs to be accurate, because love does not move at light speed, even for Tara Elizabeth’s plots. Not going to lie, the only reason I was interested in the romance at all is because Kale reminds me so very much of Jace from The Mortal Instruments in physical appearance and Fang from books 1-5 of the Maximum Ride series in personality. Two of my favorite male love interests wrapped into one? Delish.

However, let us not forget the positive aspects of this book. The idea is beautiful, and the second half of the story is actually quite well thought out. Despite the fact that Elizabeth did not take into account the fact that so many things cannot happen in one day, the plot twists and turns were pretty interesting. There were many things that I didn’t anticipate and boy, am I glad for it. The ending of the book was unexpected and wonderful (although be forewarned, the epilogue makes me cringe). Not to mention, there’s a shout out to Emma by Jane Austen and Cat, a character who sacrifices his life and love for the greater good.

Despite some plot holes that I expect the next book in the chronicles to cover, this book was all in all, decent. Tara Elizabeth has talent in terms of her ideas, and I hope I can read something else of hers that is perhaps a bit more refined in its writing style. I will be keeping my eye out for Rebel, the next book in this series, because I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

- Amrutha

Kiersten's Zoo Review
Rating: 5 stars
Word Rating: Unforgettable

When I first read the concept of Zoo I was instantly intrigued, and the book did not disappoint. The idea of a human zoo is something I never could have imagined until reading this book and experiencing being enclosed with Emma. Unlike Amrutha, I really loved Emma's voice throughout the book. She's so sassy and sarcastic, but sensitive as well - the perfect balance between the hard-headed heroine and a scared teenage girl. I found myself often laughing or agreeing with her throughout her adventures in the enclosure. Tara Elizabeth was able to perfectly capture a teenage girl thrown from an easy existence into this strange society where humans are kept in captivity (and I would know since I'm Emma's age and I definitely would have reacted the way she did). I'd also disagree in saying that Emma is a static character. Emma's view on life completely changes after her experiences in the zoo and while I was reading, I felt like I grew with her.

I also disagree about the romance. While Amrutha saw it as a sort of insta-love, I saw it completely differently. Emma's opinions of her love interests go through many ups and downs throughout the book, even if it does seem quick. She often gets stuck in her headstrong-ness, but she later learns that her first impression may not always be reliable. I do agree about Kale though. He is absolutely perfect and wonderful. He was so sweet throughout the entire book. Even when he was angry he was sweet!

What I really enjoyed about Zoo, besides the romance, the concept, and the main characters, were the vast array of minor and supporting characters. All the other characters are so different! Coming from such different times and different lives adds to the chaos of the zoo and how Emma evolves. I really can't wait to find out more about Kansas in the next book of The Enclosure Chronicles, Rebel. Kansas is barely part of Zoo, but she's from a time when the human zoos are already around. I'm looking forward to seeing more into how the society was when the zoos came to be.

Overall, I completely loved Zoo! From the voice to the characters to the concept, I thought everything was great. The beginning may be a little slow, but I found it helped show Emma's beginning state and how she starts to change as well as acquaint me with the concept of a human zoo. For me, this book was 5 stars.

- Kiersten

How would you feel if you woke up in a zoo?
Let us know in the comments!

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