Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci-Fi
Page Length: 416 Pages
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Saga Press (S&S)
Source: ARC via author, THANK YOU LEE <33
After the Red Allies turn New York City into a POW camp, two sisters must decipher the past in order to protect the future in this action-packed thriller with a dual narrative.
It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.
When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the war’s outbreak, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.
Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past.
**This is a long review because there's just so much I have to say about this brilliant book.
What instantly drew me in to this book was the cover. It looks so ominous and gritty, it perfectly reflects what's on the inside: a rough and vicious story of war and survival that's as dangerously beautiful as the cover. I love that the setting is Manhattan. I love NYC, and reading of references to these popular places was intriguing and horrifying. It really tugged at my heart strings, it made me think What if this happened to me? What if my life was uprooted, my home destroyed?
This book is emotionally raw and gritty and intense throughout. Manhattan has surrendered and been taken over by the Red Allies as a prisoners-of-war camp. Told from two points of view, we see the two sisters Phee and Sky's diverging opinions and thoughts towards their war-ravaged city. Sky yearns for Before. She hates how Manhattan is run by the malicious warden Rolladin and wants to leave. Phee clings to the only home she's ever known, the decimated city of Manhattan. Everything is thrown into chaos when strangers enter the city and share some startling news. As Sky, Phee, and her mother flee, they uncover shocking truths and learn more about their tattered city and how it really came to be.
It's very hard for the quality of writing to capture my attention these days. I've read so many books by now that the writing all starts to sound the same. Lee Kelly's writing stole my bookish heart from the beginning though. I can't even begin to describe how amazing it is. She's a debut author, and her writing is better than most seasoned writers out there. I kid you not. The imagery is perfect, her writing is so lyrical. She truly pours all of the emotions into her writing. She leaves us on the edge of seats, she has us shocked and horrified, she makes us cry our eyes out. Our eyes are glued to the page, soaking up her glorious words. She illuminates strong themes of family and identity with her powerful words and paints beautiful pictures with her figurative language. The premise is so intriguing, and I love how Lee feeds us information bit by bit. She doesn't dump all the information of the war on us. She gives it to us little by little in a subtle way that doesn't sound like it's being told to us. We find things out as the character do; we aren't given the whole scope, we're given what's necessary and relevant to the story. It's best that way. This book is packed with action too!
This book is told in dual points of view, and Lee did an amazing job at it. The voices were different, they truly reflected their respective thoughts. I felt I really got a sense of their personalities and aspirations. The older sister Sky is the delicate, smart, proper, and reasonable one. Phee is the free-spirited, wild one. I felt I knew them both so well, and I admired them both so much. What I truly loved was their friendship. Watching these two sisters grow and seeing their friendship alter and grow stronger tugged at my heartstrings. I loved how close they were. They told each other everything, they could read each other, they supported one another. They had the best sister relationship ever.
The secondary characters had incredible depth, I felt I knew them all very well. The supporting characters were relatable and realistic. Phee and Sky's mother is so strong and caring. Ryder is the thoughtful and sweet guy who makes you swoon. Sam is the infuriating bossy military type you can't help but love. Rolladin is the enigma, the woman you just want to know more about. The relationships in this book are spot-on. There's a side romance that plays a minimal part in the book. I'm glad it's small because the most important relationships in this book is between family, mainly Sky and Phee and their sisterly love for one another and between them and their mother as they clear away the secrets and understand all the sacrifices made and why things were done as they were. I loved the family aspects of this book.
The themes were strong and well executed. Identity and family were the biggest ones I saw, and Lee did an amazing job with both. The book wrapped up beautifully and left me in tears. I sat there reeling for hours, relishing in the epicness of this book. Truly spectacular. A masterpiece. Best book I've read in a long time, and it will join only 17 other books to my "most favorites" shelf. You need to read this book. I wish I could find the words to do this book justice, but I can't. Just read it.
And now a giveaway! I loved this book so much, I'm giving away a pre-order of City of Savages.
1. This giveaway is international
2. No cheating. I will check every entry.
3. Winner has 72 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.