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Dark Parties by Sara Grant

Dark Parties

by Sara Grant

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Sixteen-year old Neva, her BFF Sanna, and their respective boyfriends Ethan and Brayden live inside a Protectosphere, where the homogenous population is becoming more inbred and moreover, people keep disappearing. The teens want to know what the government is hiding, and decide to paint anonymous graffiti around the city demanding answers. Neva is taken in for questioning, but her father, the Minister of Ancient History, manages to get her released. He gives her a job in his office to keep an eye on her, but Neva uses her access to try and find out the truth about the Protectosphere and the fate of “The Missing.”

Discussion: The book begins with an interesting premise; the homogenous Protectosphere is a result of xenophobia and race hatred. But the rest of the plot disappoints. Not only is it a mash-up of a slew of young adult dystopian books. The world-building lacks depth and sophistication - certainly a lack of knowledge of industry and economics. In addition, the interrelationships among the protagonists are bizarre, and the characters keep switching, well, character. Or maybe that’s giving a bit much credit to the males in the story, none of whom have any character. Neva, naive and stupid, nevertheless saves the day in spite of herself, at least temporarily: this is only book one of a trilogy. ( )
  nbmars | May 4, 2015 |
Inside the electrified walls of the Protectosphere is a community cut off from the rest of the world. The government says they’re better off because beyond the Protectosphere lies a wasteland. Citizens may notice luxuries like blueberries, chocolate, and new clothes are disappearing, but at least they are alive.

But, are they really living when the government determines what job an individual holds? Or tries to brainwash the youth into reproducing at a younger age to save a dwindling population? Are they really alive when troublemakers are injected with tracking devices? Or worse, when family members and friends suddenly disappear during the night? Only the government knows where to, but to question them might create for you the same fate.

The teens hold Dark Parties to start underground rebellions, to join celibacy pacts, to spray paint anti-government propaganda on city walls. But, when their friends start disappearing, their rebellion fizzles out. Of the youth that attended the Dark Parties, three fighters remain– Neva, Sanna (her friend), and Braydon (Sanna’s boyfriend). Without the support of their peers, the three dig into their government to discover the history of the Protectosphere, and they begin to learn the atrocities their government is capable of.

Dark Parties by Sara Grant could have been a great novel, but like most of the other books I’ve read in 2013, it fell short of amazing. “Decent” and “all right” are more fitting adjectives. Perhaps my opinion would have differed if I hadn’t read two, awesome dystopians prior to Dark Parties. Already, the novel had some pretty big shoes to fill, and I approached reading it with a more critical eye. At first many of the elements of the society in Dark Parties seemed generic, but as I read on, they started to seem similar. Dark Parties by Sara Grant is to Young Adult as The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is to Middle Grade. I’m not implying Dark Parties is a rip off because there are a few elements unique to its storyline. I am saying that because I’ve experienced a similar story already, Dark Parties failed to excite me. Besides, I liked Lina and Doon better than Neva, Sanna, and Braydon.

Neva, the main character, lacks passion and personality. Her ability to lead a rebellion seems more a result of circumstance than her own drive. Then there is Braydon, the love interest. He’s dating Sanna, Neva’s best friend, but Braydon is trying to become intimate with Neva, too. And Neva falls for it! As I read the story, I kept wondering how Neva could be attracted to a guy, who is two-timing her best friend. Hoes before Bros, amiright? Even worse, Neva is barely remorseful about it. I mean, she keeps saying she feels bad, but she still pursues Braydon. Aside from his teenage infidelity, Braydon lacks a personality, like Neva. (Perhaps they are meant for each other after all.) He’s pseudo-mysterious. He appears to be brooding, but that’s only because he doesn’t have anything valid to offer in a conversation. He does drive a motorcycle though, and everyone knows the ladies find motorcycles sexy or something. Braydon seems to exist merely as a plot device– Neva’s temptation to break her celibacy pact. But, I feel like the author should have given Neva someone more worthwhile and convincing. Sanna is about the only character in the story that is interesting, though at times she seems artificially sweet. Regardless, she has more passion, she has more challenges to overcome, and she has more life-altering decisions to make. Why couldn’t the story have been about Sanna?

While most of the characters lacked substance, the world didn’t. About 16 chapters in, the reader learns the founding fathers of the Protectosphere were xenophobic. The Protectosphere was developed to keep the effects of globalization out– no sharing religion, no sharing language, no sharing culture, no sharing ideas. I think this is an interesting idea given the shrinking world we live in, but I don’t think the idea was explored as well as it could have been. In fact, it caused a few holes in the world building. Earlier in the story, Neva laments over blueberries, which are no longer available in her world. Except, chances are, if she’s living in America or Europe, blueberries probably grow…naturally. Things like coffee and gas for cars still exist in Neva’s world though, and both of these most definitely would have to have been exported from the outside world. Unfortunately, I didn’t sense any irony or hypocrisy here, which makes this aspect of the world seem underdeveloped.

Even though I didn’t find the storyline compelling for the most part, I continued to read because I kept hoping the story would improve. And improve it did. Things took a turn for the better when Neva infiltrates the Women’s Empowerment Center. For the first time, the reader and Neva understand the grotesque and horrible things the government does to its people, its women. Finally, a fire sparks in Neva; she realizes what she’s fighting for and fighting to get away from. Then, Grant leads us through a series of twists and turns and twists that had me at the edge of my seat. And just when I thought things couldn't get any more satisfying, the last few pages happened. The end. OH MY GOD! I mean, I can’t tell you what happens because spoilers, but trust me when I say the ending was perfect. Unexpected. Thought-provoking. Grant doesn’t wrap up Dark Parties neatly with a nice little bow. As many answers are provided as questions are created in those last few pages. I guess you could say the story ends on a cliffhanger, which I understand is an acquired taste. I’m obviously a huge fan of them. I like it when a little is left up to the imagination, and since this book appears to be a stand-alone, all I will have is my imagination. I loved that the ending of Dark Parties filled me with as much wonder as it did Neva. ( )
  books_n_tea | Apr 1, 2014 |
Review from ARC from publisher (Thank you!)

Different than I was expecting. ( )
  kcarrigan | Aug 26, 2013 |
Um...I'm not really sure what went on here.

OK, let me give you an overview of the book while I try to collect my thoughts. Neva only knows life inside the Protectosphere, which is a dome whose role is supposedly to protect people from the outside. Yet whenever anyone even mentions the outside, or thinks about life before the Protectosphere was in place, they go missing. Neva keeps a list of The Missing and determines to find out the truth. But she finds out more than she bargains for and not only that, falls in love with her best friend's boyfriend.

The beginning was...ok? If a little weird. And random. The book starts with a Dark Party - basically like a sleepover but in total darkness and minus the sleeping over. A meeting migh be a better way to put it. The idea is that 'we want to discover who we are without the burden of sight. It's easy to believe we are the same inside because we look so similar'. It's meant to be an act of rebellion against the goverment. Everyone looks pretty similar so the purpose of the darkness is to focus on who people are on the inside. The Dark Party also aims to set up a rebellion, although the majority of people who turned up leave when offered the choice, having no desire to go against the government. To be honest, it didn't make a whole load of sense. When you open a book you expect there to be a little scene setting, right? Just enough to get the reader settled in. Not Dark Parties. It gets straight to the point, though not particularly well. In the dark Neva also ends up kissing Braydon, the boyfriend of her best friend Sanna. It was pretty immediate and with no reason why.

I felt that the structure of the book was pretty disjointed; it didn't flow particularly well. It started to pick up a bit around halfway through, and there was a section near the end that definitely stood out from the rest in the way that it flowed quite nicely. And...the relationships between the characters were quite odd as well. There was no backstory, no build-up, no explanation. We got a bit about why Neva didn't love Ethan, her boyfriend, anymore, but no reason why she was attracted to Braydon. The relationship between Neva and Sanna was pretty on-off. And as soon as Neva got into some kind of trouble, two seconds later she was being rescued by her father. Neva herself was a bit of a mix. I didn't particularly warm to her - she was always nervous, or terrified, or betraying herself in some way, not to mention the fact that hello? Despite her awareness of how wrong it was to involve herself with Braydon, still she succumbed to the desire to be close to him. She couldn't even be careful when Sanna was nearby. But for all that, she was still courageous, determined to fight back even when Sanna briefly lost her rebellious spirit, although she could have been a bit less obvious. There was a little bit of stupidity on both their parts. Still, you have to respect her bravery.

Yeah, I'm aware that this review is a little disjointed itself. But...I'm just at a loss as to how to structure my thoughts more coherently with this one. It was very strange, for me at least. The premise for this looked great, so I found myself pretty disappointed. The ideas in this have so much potential. And I was expecting there to be a sequel, yet it seems that despite the author having some ideas, she has no plans for publication. It's a shame, because I think that another one would have been good and might have had some benefit. So...overall, I liked this book to a point. But I think that there were parts that were sorely under-developed, and would definitely have benefited from more explanation. ( )
  AaIshah | Dec 21, 2012 |
Neva lives in the Homeland under the Protectosphere, an electrified dome that protects her people from the dangers outside—or does it? Natural resources are depleted, people around her are going missing, and the government is trying to convince her that having sex and creating the future generation is her civic duty. Neva and her friends try to find themselves in the sea of uniformity that is the Homeland, while dealing with conflicts in love and friendship. Through Neva the author tells a story of girl power and triumph over adversity while raising issues regarding sex, violation, and who makes decisions about the bodies of women. While the plot is definitely interesting the government in the Homeland is so backward-thinking that it is too unrealistic and difficult to believe. Similarly, there are twists involving almost all of the supporting characters and those are hard to swallow; it is as if nobody around Neva is who they seem but, conveniently, we do not find these things out until the very end. Overall, Dark Parties is a quick read with an intriguing plot, which covers issues that some young adults are dealing with themselves and some that they will hope they never face. ( )
  alyssjo | Oct 30, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316085944, Hardcover)

Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...

Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Sixteen-year-old Neva, born and raised under the electrified Protectosphere that was built when civilization collapsed in violent warfare, puts her friends, family, and life at risk when she tries to find out if their world is built on a complex series of lies and deceptions.… (more)

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