Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Happy Book Birthday, Escaping Eleven by Jerri Chisholm!

by Jerri Chisholm
Entangled Teen
YA Dystopian / SciFi
384 pages

In Compound Eleven, the hierarchy of the floors is everything.

My name is Eve Hamilton, and on my floor, we fight.

Which at least is better than the bottom floor, where they toil away in misery. Only the top floor has any ease in this harsh world; they rule from their gilded offices.

Because four generations ago, Earth was rendered uninhabitable—the sun too hot, the land too barren. Those who remained were forced underground. While not a perfect life down here, I’ve learned to survive as a fighter.

Except my latest match is different. Instead of someone from the circuit, my/  opponent is a mysterious boy from the top floor. And the look in his eyes tells me he’s different…maybe even kind.

Right before he kicks my ass.

Still, there’s something about him—something that says he could be my salvation...or my undoing. Because I’m no longer content to just survive in Eleven. Today, I'm ready to fight for more than my next meal: I'm fighting for my freedom. And this boy may just be the edge I've been waiting on.


Hope is as dim as the lighting in this underground society, where the levels you're born on determine your worth.

Eve has just finished schooling and has six weeks to decide which job she'll take for the rest of her life. Of course, each and every one of these jobs has one support the lives of those on the levels above her. After they killed her younger brother, this is something she can never do. Forced underground generations ago, she lives in a society where the level of tunnels you live on determines your social ranking. So far, she's done well thanks to her father's training as a fighter in the favorite past time battles on her floor, but she sees that only as a preparation for her true, secret goal—to escape to the world outside...even if it means she'll be scorched to death by the sun. For her, freedom is worth any price, and she will escape. No matter what.

It's been awhile since I picked up a dystopian, and this one kept me pretty much in the pages until I hit the end. It is well written with characters, which dig in with dreams, emotions, pain and hope. It's complexly woven, has surprises around every bend, includes action as well as heart-breaking scenes, and strips human nature down to its bare bones. There's darkness and hope. Cruelty and love. There's everything that a good dystopian needs to have.

Eve comes across harsh and with more corners than the stones of the tunnels she lives in. I never really decided if I like her or not, and sometimes I rooted for her, while other times, I wondered what she was thinking. But it fits her character. After all, she's spent her entire life not only in less than ideal living circumstances, but as a heartless fighter. While the author tries to make her more 'soft' by adding volunteer work and a few unexpected friendships, it isn't enough to round off her harsher side. But for some reason, that doesn't hurt the story, and I'd have picked up book two already if it were out to continue Eve's tale.

The world itself is dark, dreary, and pretty well described. I could almost smell the dusty air, sweat and sadness. Almost. While some moments are well built out, there's a bit of further depth missing...not only on the world building end from the senses, but also on the background and more than a couple of the characters. But there's still more to come in the series, and I am excited to see if this brings more on this end.

And there's romance. This sweetens the pot and takes over the story line more than once. I do love the hero in this one, although I'm not sure of his background or the motives behind his actions completely, either. (As said, missing background on many characters) Still, he has the heart of gold Eve's missing and adds the necessary zest.

Dystopian fans will want to grab this one up, especially those who like more than a dusting of romance. There are a few genre cliches, and the world building does remind of other dystopian reads, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this read. It was fun to dive into a well done dystopian again...and I am looking forward to book two.

No comments: