Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

The Body Electric by Beth Revis
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: October 6th, 2014
The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?
"While it isn't my favorite book or anything, I would still recommend it, and it was an enjoyable read." 

I didn't know what to expect from this book. Years ago, I had tried reading Beth Revis' Across the Universe series, and I really couldn't get into it. But this sounded like the kind of book I would enjoy, and the cover is gorgeous.

I'm not normally into sci-fi, if only because it they can sometimes be too heavy on the "sci" part, but I found The Body Electric to have a good mix of science and fiction/other, so that it wasn't overwhelming, and I could still follow it to some extent. It was confusing at times, but that didn't really inhibit my understanding of the book and the plot as a whole. The plot is engaging and relatively quick and easy to follow. The pacing was a bit back and forth, but it worked with the rest of the story.

Perhaps the strongest part of the story is the premise and the execution of the premise. I've been having a tough time lately because so many of the books that I've read have had premises that failed to deliver. This book was not one of those. It kept me on my feet, guessing and turning the pages throughout the story. Revis crafts the story so that there are tiny hints scattered throughout about the truth. While I figured out before the big reveal, I didn't really mind. I didn't know all the pieces, but I knew enough to start to piece it all together. There were plenty of supposed twists that I knew long before the truth came out; while it's something that sticks out to me now, while I was reading it, I didn't mind it very much. 

The world-building in the book is amazing, and I could really picture the world they were living in. There are some aspects of the society and the founding of the world that didn't really sit right for me, and I found that there were parts that were missing or were a bit confusing. I wasn't entirely sure how everything/future Malta fit within our world or the future world. There was a brief explanation of the Secessionary War and the Unified Countries, but there were gaps. It doesn't really hurt the story, but as someone who's interested in international affairs, this part stuck out to me. Otherwise, the world-building, as I said before, is really well done.

I think it's the characters I struggled with the most, along with the fact that I sort of figured out the ending before the end. I enjoyed Ella as a character; she's an unreliable narrator, but her story, her struggles, her thoughts, and her actions/reactions felt incredibly real to me. She didn't go jumping into Jack's arms, and she questioned everything while we're questioning everything she knows and does. I found the reveries fascinating, and I had a love/hate relationship with them as they connected with Ella's story, if only because I sometimes couldn't tell if she was in a reverie or if she was in reality. I think that was part of the point, but I do wish the bees were explained more. I started to figure it out, and I think Revis wanted readers to take it as they wanted, but I wanted to know more about the bees because I saw them as potentially good and potentially bad.

Jack was also an interesting character, but I wish we got to know him more. I still don't feel like I really got to know him or his story, and maybe that's the point. He's a character that I normally would have loved and would have fallen in love with. But he seemed to remain kind of distant to me as a reader. This made it even harder to really feel and understand the romance. Not only was the back story a bit weak and not completely explained, but I couldn't really see Ella and Jack reconnecting and coming back together. I didn't feel the sparks there, and it remained a weak point between the characters.

The other characters were interesting but not particularly memorable except for Ms. White. I really liked getting to understand her motives a bit more, and I liked her part in the story. The plot involving Ella's parents were also pretty interesting, and it was definitely a big part of the story and of the lead-up to the ending. And while I liked some of the other minor characters, again, they aren't very memorable to me. They left a great impression while I was reading the book, but once they either disappeared from the story or once I put the book down, I don't know that I ever once thought about them. Maybe the story works better this way, especially since it's as if Ella doesn't get to know people well and people move in and out of her life. Certainly given the events in the book, it's not hard to see why not much attention was paid to the secondary or tertiary characters, but there are still some characters I would have liked to see more of.

Overall, I enjoyed The Body Electric. As someone who doesn't normally read/like sci-fi, I enjoyed the book and didn't find it too heavily science-based. There were concepts that I still don't totally understand, but I don't think it impacted my overall ability to enjoy the story. While most of the characters didn't really stick out or leave an impression on me, I enjoyed how complex Ella is. In addition, I found the world-building to be impeccable, though the part of me that's interested in international relations was pickier. While it isn't my favorite book or anything, I would still recommend it, and it was an enjoyable read.
The Body Electric: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
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