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I wanted to read this crazy book from the moment I read the synopsis, and a kind soul surprised me with a pre-order of it.
It’s the sort of book that you’ll either be stoked, like me, when you get your hands on it, or one that you will steer clear of because it’s way too outlandish. And that’s because if you fully intend to immerse yourself in a book where a young girl called Elena Mendoza exists because she is the product of a virgin birth (parthenogenesis), it means suspending your disbelief (a lot), but not reading if you are prone to seeing that very premise alone as blasphemous.
The concept of the book becomes even more interesting after Elena realizes she has the gift of healing people, but she discovers this only after her crush, Freddie, is shot outside the Starbucks she works at. Big problem with this though: innocent people are ‘raptured’ every time Elena heals someone, and the number grows the longer she does it, and she has inanimate objects telling her she must do these healings. Not to mention that this all kicked off the apocalypse.
There’s so much else in here other than this wild story though, that will have the reader thinking all the way through. Having the main character as a bisexual girl of Cuban descent (kudos to Hutchinson) struggling with the ‘voices’, dealing with bullies, and her feelings toward her crush (who honestly isn’t very nice to her), there are a whole host of teenage issues even without the impending apocalypse and feeling like an outcast because she’s a product of a virgin birth. There are also lots of other things brought up such as grief, suicide, gun use, and ultimately the fate of the world becomes the final big conversation.
It’s hard not to read this and not have yourself thinking about how Elena is ‘playing God’ and also about how the world might end. So you can read this and think about how silly it is that Elena is hearing a voice coming from the siren on the Starbucks cup, but you can also appreciate that there are some big questions and topics that Hutchinson is tackling within this wonderful, thought-provoking novel. Sometimes you have to tackle the big subjects within these parameters because otherwise they’re even more overwhelming!
My only major issues with the book were with some passages that seemed to drag that made pacing odd, and a little bit of preachiness at the end. Overall though, this is a wonderfully-written, decidedly different and fun YA novel. A unique read!