The radiation and viral attack had changed animals and humans, giving them disabilities and death, but also powers. Now human are confined in walled Citybases which safeguard them from these mutated beasts we call Legres, and the government hides the existence of the genetically affected humans with powers beyond imagination. And even though I don’t know it yet, I am one of them.
Full disclosure: I’m about as far removed from being the target audience for YA novels as possible. That said, I’ve read a few I thought were okay, and like most YA readers, thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games series. It’s not like I’m incapable of enjoying work outside of my normal comfort zone. I just wish this book could have been one of them. Sadly, it wasn’t.
I’ll start off with the positives. The world building process was extremely thorough with well-defined social structures and the accompanying undercurrent of political motivations that almost always go hand-in-hand with communities of any size. I also thought the author was able to seamlessly weave in a wide range of information about the history, capabilities and even the unsolved mysteries of the people and creatures that make up this futuristic world.
Now for the negatives. Unfortunately there are many. As a blogger, I read books by everyone from debut self-published authors all the way up to the biggest names in traditional publishing such as Stephen King and Justin Cronin. It’s possible to find the occasional typo in almost any of them, although it’s probably fair to say it’s a bigger problem within the self-published side of the biz. I’m not sure I’ve come across any novel, self- or traditionally published, that has as many typos, missing words, odd phrases and misused verb tenses as there are in Evolution.
Trust me, I’m not usually the kind of reader who tends to nitpick and hold a typo here or there against an author, especially if it’s part of an otherwise solid effort. In this case, the sheer number of problems were a huge distraction. I found out after reading the book that the author was born in Hong Kong and studied in London before returning home. It’s entirely possible that English may be a second or even third language for her. Even if that’s the case, I don’t think it excuses her from finding a translation service that could have helped her smooth out many of these problems, especially the most egregious ones.
My other main criticism of the book was the lack of originality. An academy for gifted youth with special powers? Seriously? It’s a blatant rip off of the internationally popular Marvel X-Men franchise that’s been around for decades. In addition, many of the characters had powers and abilities that seemed to be directly copied from other well-known superheroes in television, movies and comics. Would have liked to see more original thinking overall.
Finally, I found the high-level of teenage girl silliness to be way too high. Any time you’re reading a YA novel, you have to expect at least a little bit of the whole “I wonder if the cute boy likes me.” thing. I get it, the author is speaking to a certain audience. Even the Hunger Games trilogy had a little of it. That said, the amount of time the main character in this book spent thinking about, talking to and interacting with “cute boys” got to be very tiresome. My eyes are still sore from rolling them almost constantly. Given the gravity of the situations she was facing, I thought it would have been perfectly reasonable to scale back some of the normal teenage angst just a smidge.
Overall, I’m afraid, this book was just not very good. I think it reads like fan fiction written by a high school kid. The author is still young and I genuinely hope she considers my criticism and keeps working to get better. She has enough raw writing talent to be a solid author someday if she can clean up the grammatical issues, push herself more creatively and find a better balance between normal teenage-y stuff and good storytelling. I sincerely hope she does just that.
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