Wednesday, September 12, 2012
YA Sci-Fi: Safekeeping by Karen Hesse
Date: September 18, 2012
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
Reading time: two days
From GoodReads: Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People's Party took power, the new president was assassinated, and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there. Exhausted, her phone dead, her credit cards worthless, Radley starts walking.
My review: I am a huge fan of Karen Hesse's historical novels, so I was quite interested to see how she would do with a dystopian novel. Though Safekeeping, unlike many of her books, isn't written in verse, it carries through her sparse writing style and is uniquely illustrated with her own black-and-white photographs.
Overall, though, I didn't enjoy Safekeeping as much as I have Hesse's other books. The sparse prose was familiar, and, as always, Hesse effectively uses that style to convey emotion and empathy, but I wanted a bit more backstory. I felt like I never truly got to know the characters because I wasn't totally aware of their backgrounds. At the end, too, I was dissatisfied with how things resolved. I felt like, though the things that happened were placed that way to set up the essential backbone of the story, different details could have been used or things could have ended in other ways that would have made more sense and provided more closure. For clarification, highlight the spoiler if you so choose: Radley basically goes on a wild goose chase. Her parents were dead before she returned from abroad, and the police she thought were after her were just trying to tell her about what happened. Obviously, it was necessary for something to set up her experiences for the majority of the book, but I thought everything could have been handled differently. Anyway, Safekeeping is an interesting read, especially as its style and tone differ so much from other recent YA sci-fi releases. It's just not quite as outstanding as many of Hesse's other works.