ESCAPING ELEVEN | Kirkus Reviews

In this post-apocalyptic YA series opener, a teen is determined to leave her restrictive underground community for the perilous world above.

The sun has rendered life on Earth’s surface unsuitable for humanity. Sixteen-year-old Eve Hamilton lives in Compound Eleven, a self-sustaining underground city with five levels. Now that she’s finished with school, she must choose a profession. However, as a Lower Mean (someone from the second level), her job options are menial and unfulfilling. Fortunately, she’s an excellent competitive fighter for the Blue Circuit in the Bowl, an arena where rules of honor are seldom followed. One day, Eve squares off against a Preeminate (or “Preme”), a young man from the fifth level where the Compound’s wealthy founders live. As he’s two years older and more experienced, he knocks her out handily—but then he sits by her bed in the nurse’s station, concerned. He reveals that his name is Wren, but Eve doesn’t care about his guilt over injuring her. She only wants to access the Oracle, a viewing station that peeks above ground. Once there, she plans to escape for good, as she wants nothing to do with the society that only allows one child per family—and doomed her infant brother, Jack. Debut author Chisholm remixes elements from other post-apocalyptic YA series, such as Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books, into a familiar but compelling new premise. The handsome, sympathetic Wren seems too good to be true at times, but he convincingly and pleasantly wins her over. Her narration, meanwhile, is often terse and tough, with lines such as “There is no job I will choose. In six weeks’ time, I will be gone.” The most incredible moments occur with the glassed-in Oracle; Eve’s first sight of a living tree, for example, is as uplifting as it is heartbreaking. Some characters, such as abusive boyfriends and bullies, feel standard for the genre, but effectively show that some aspects of humanity will sadly remain the same in the future. The tight narrative halts just where readers will expect, but the next volume leaves plenty to explore.

A compulsively readable tale, despite its use of well-worn genre tropes.

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1-68281-501-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2020

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