Little A Publishing, 2015.
This is the Night is yet another story of teenagers surviving in a new world order and struggling to make a life for themselves with a dash of romance – however, in this case, it was not done in a juvenile way. The Homeland is sending young men off to war, and Lance, Alan, Benny and Joe frantically try to evade the Registry agents who are attempting to recruit them against their will. This novel is dark and gritty, and nothing turns out the way it is expected to. The love story is unfulfilling and not even tragic because it is just depressing – but it works well in the novel. These characters are real and authentic and they never did what I thought they would do, keeping me on my toes.
I found it hard to get involved in the story for the first few chapters as it jumped from character to character with no sense of how they were connected. It was too abrupt to even guess how the plot lines might merge together, which I guess may have been the purpose. I did care enough about Lance/Lorrie and Alan to keep reading, but the Benny/Joe story line just couldn’t hold my attention – they never took on distinct personalities for me. Alan, labelled “Homeland Indigenous” and sent to an essentially residential school before recruitment, has no real idea about his heritage until he learns about the underground resistance movement, H.I.M. His storyline is a clear condemnation of our governments’ treatment of indigenous people within educational and other social systems.
Other socio-political issues are examined in the relationship between Lance and Lorrie. Lance seems sweet and kind at first, but he channels his rage against the Orwellian system of government into his abuse of his girlfriend, Lorrie. In turn, Lorrie abandons her anti-war campaign to focus instead on the imaginary lice that have pervaded her relationship with Lance. Instead of dealing with her abusive boyfriend, she finds a psychological outlet and ends up almost destroying herself. It is not until she regains her political power that she can rise above the anger around her.
There were certainly some large themes dealt with in this novel: corrupt politics, pointless war, mental health, divisions of class and race. However, I think they could have been dealt with more fully if the characters had been developed further. I also wished for more actual world-building – the circumstances and setting of the novel were very unclear. It just seemed like our world with different names for certain things. For instance, young men are being conscripted to a supposedly “unwinnable war” yet we are told almost nothing about it. This was a major theme that suffered for lack of development.
The ending kind of lost me as well – I felt all of the plot lines building together towards something big, but then it kind of fell flat. I don’t need everything tied up in a neat package, but I could have used a little more clarity. Overall, I enjoyed the concept of this novel, but it could have been developed further.
I received this book from Netgalley and Little A Publishing in exchange for an honest review.