Hey, all, it’s Alexa! Finally catching up on my reading list, lol, with yet-to-be-released political sci-fi dystopian, The Divinity Bureau by Tessa Clare
The Hunger Games meets Romeo and Juliet in a stunning debut about a forbidden romance between a young activist and a government employee for a corrupt bureau that controls the population by deciding who lives and who dies.
Roman Irvine is a disgruntled IT Technician for the Divinity Bureau, a government agency that uses random selection to decide who lives and who dies. In a world where overpopulation has lead to pollution, a crippled economy, and a world in crisis, he’s accepted the bureau’s activities as a necessity… until he meets April McIntyre.
April has every reason to be suspicious of Roman. He works for the Divinity Bureau, which sent her father to an early grave. But he’s also sweet and loyal, and unbeknownst to her, he saved her life. As Roman and April fall deeper in love, the deeper they’re thrust into the politics of deciding who lives and who dies. Someone wants April dead. And the bureau’s process of random selection may not be so random after all…
The plot of this book felt a lot looser than most dystopians because the characters don’t start out with a goal of taking down the government, searching out the resistance, surviving the Hunger Games, or anything like that. They start out just living. Strolling about their normal lives, then encountering certain, seemingly small situations that cause them to make certain seemingly small decisions, which lead them to the point of the ultimate decisions where they have to decide whose side they’re truly on and what they’re truly willing to fight and die for.
I know. I could hardly be more cryptic. ?
In all seriousness, though, it was really interesting to see a dystopian that read like this: smooth and flowing, very real-life and down-to-earth—until the characters decided what they were willing to fight for, and then the ending rushed into view. The choices stacked up and their results swarmed together, transforming into ending scenes that were downright, edge-of-the-seat gripping. I never thought the line “I’m the IT guy” could sound so epic, but seriously, I almost cheered.
Plot: 4 stars out of 5
The weird part was that, in many ways, these characters were things that would normally irritate me (headstrong, naïve, running-up-against-people-way-bigger-and-more-powerful-than-them-with-absolutely-NO-PLAN-and-NO-IDEA-WHAT THEY’RE DOING).
I really liked Roman okay.
Like I said, I never thought the words, “I’m the IT guy” could sound so insanely epic, but they were and he was. Cute and awkward and precious and practical and terrified but really rather brave when the situation required it. As April described him, Roman was “sweet, intelligent, and considerate. He never fails to put my needs first and make me feel as though I’m the only person in the room.”
via GIPHY Literally me, kay?
Like I said, though, he was also naïve; both of them, actually, seemed to have only half a grasp on exactly how powerful the Bureau was and exactly what those sorts of people might be willing to do to keep their secrets secret; but he was also utterly willing to stick with April (even when she was being crazy) and fight for her life, even before he knew her, just because he knew it was the right thing to do. Even when I disliked the decisions he made, I very much appreciated his sweet heart, I enjoyed reading about his life, and I wanted good things for him in the end.
As for April, I really liked her to begin with, but in my opinion, she made far more and more costly mistakes than Roman did, and that really started to bother me. Her greatest character flaw, in my opinion, was a self-righteous sense of entitlement, resulting in an unconscious selfishness and general lack of perspective. Life, obviously, wasn’t all about her, but many of her actions showed an inability to to see anything beyond her own desires or to actually consider where the consequences of her choices might lead. It’s really hard for me to get behind main characters when that trait is so prevalent.
However, at the same time, I can see she was a great character: an absolute firecracker, she was strong, the seemingly brave kind of insane, and bursting with that special spice of personality that almost automatically sparks change. She also breaks sometimes (the pressure is real later in the book) and that made her more realistic and relatable. I would look forward to seeing some character growth as she learns to gain some perspective, take responsibility, and actually understand what she really has to bring to the world.
Characters: 3 1/2 stars out of 5
Even though there was a lot of telling, it really worked to tell this story (see what I did there ?). Something about the voice and the way the telling was handled made a technical faux-pas the perfect tool for these characters and this tale.
As for the setting, it’s not the most descriptive worldbuilding I’ve ever seen, but I think that’s because their Districts feel like they aren’t that different from parts of the world we live in now. There is the Bureau, of course, and there are some advancements (BIONs, coffee kiosks, etc), but the world itself still consists of the same kinds of places, the same kinds of people, and the same kinds of problems, such that it was easy to apply my own knowledge and experience without needing a lot of extra description from the author.
Writing Style/Setting: 4 stars out of 5.
And so, we come in at about 4 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed this book: it’s thought-provoking, lowkey yet exciting, and complete characters who turn out to be strangely lovable, in spite of the faults within them. If you’d like to try it out for yourself, you can pre-order a copy on Amazon for $15.00.
So… have you read any politicals lately? A book with elements you wouldn’t normally like that still grabbed you by the face and said, “LOVE ME!!!!!” lol. Can’t wait to hear from you all, and I will see you in the comment section. ?
~ Love, Alexa ❤
Notes: I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book.
Content Warnings: mild sexual references + sex scene, mild violence, cursing.