Today’s blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours features Luminary by Krista McGee. Luminary is a young adult science fiction/dystopian book that was released January 7, 2014 by Thomas Nelson Publishing. It is the second book in the Anomaly series.
About the Books
She was an anomaly with a death sentence. Now she’s free.
Thalli was scheduled for annihilation. She was considered an anomaly–able to experience emotions that should have been eradicated by genetic modification. The Scientists running the State couldn’t allow her to bring undue chaos to their peaceful, ordered world. But seconds before her death, she is rescued.
Now Thalli is above ground in a world she thought was destroyed. A world where not even the air is safe to breathe. She and her three friends must journey across this unknown land, their destination a hidden civilization. It’s their only chance of survival.
Broken and exhausted after an arduous journey, they arrive in New Hope, a town that survived the nuclear holocaust. When Thalli meets the people there–people actually “born” to “families”–her small world is blown wide open.
Soon after their arrival to New Hope, the town comes under attack. She has escaped imminent death, but now Thalli is thrust into a new fight–a fight to save her new home. Does she know enough about this world of emotions, this world of chaos, to save not only herself, but the people she has come to love?
Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.
Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.
Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.
The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?
I am reviewing both books, so there may be spoilers from Anomaly in my Luminary review. Read with caution!
First of all, can we just admire those covers? They are what first drew me to this series. I mean, you had me at space helmet. (If you don’t recall, I have sort of an obsession with space/stars book covers).
Before I review, I feel like I need to tell readers that this book series is Christian Fiction. I feel like I have to get that out of the way, because SO many reviews on Goodreads rant about it. Truthfully, I had no idea myself, but it didn’t impact how I felt about the book in a negative way. In fact, I was kind of in awe of how the science-fiction and dystopian blended with the Christian messages. Although the book paints the ‘Scientists’ in a negative light, it didn’t feel like it was outright combating science, but how power corrupts people. But really, it talked about God in a way that wasn’t in your face. And while it was there, it was an asset to a really great plot-line. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about what I thought.
Anomaly, more than anything, shows us what a world without love looks likes. Have you ever read A Wrinkle in Time? Do you remember when they went to the planet to save Meg’s father and there are all the people in neat little box houses doing exactly the same thing at the same time? This is kind of what the people of the State reminded me of. They were just there – doing the pre-instructed tasks. They did not ask questions. They did not feel, not really. Except Thalli. They were bred to specifications to make a society function, but all the qualities that make us really human were missing.
Thalli has to hide what she is from everyone – an anomaly. We realize that she is normal and it is the others who are in fact strange. But her whole life she has been taught that different is not acceptable. Of course, she is discovered and thus begins her path to finding out that the world is so much bigger than her little pod.
I loved Thalli. She was smart and logical, but dealing with all these new things – like emotions she didn’t even have names for – and McGee was really able to express that internal turmoil Thalli felt. And when she begins to realize her feelings for Berk, a childhood friend who has been bred to be a Scientist, we really see how different her society is from ours. Berk was adorable and I was rooting for the two the entire book. Luckily, John (a father of one of the scientists who is hidden away because of his belief in God and his knowledge of life before the State) is there to open her eyes to the lies she has been taught, as well as provide support when she doesn’t understand what is happening to her.
The book was just the right pacing — we had action, mixed with periods where we learned something – and then twists just when we began to think things were going in one direction. The prologue starts off telling you she is going to die in fifteen minutes, and yet you have no idea how things are going to get there.
That is one thing I MUST commend the author on — most of her plot twists were not predictable and added so many layers to the story. This book made me feel connected to Thalli and I was really excited that I had the other book ready to go as soon as I finished reading — especially after the ending I never saw coming.
Overall, this was a really great start to a series that I’m excited I decided to pick up.
Luminary starts right where we left off. Thalli, Brek, John, and Rhen are outside and dealing with the aftermath of running from the State — and taking unrestricted things like transports, food, and shelter in order to make it out alive. Thalli is feeling so many emotions at once — she was minutes from death, is now outside (a place she has always been told meant certain death), and is on the run from people who she knows want to kill her. She is guilty, feeling like her companions will die because of her and she is just plain pissed. The first few pages is full of this internal battle — she is rude, mean, angry, irritable — and yet she is telling us in her thoughts she has no idea why. She doesn’t want to say this or act this way but she can’t stop it. And isn’t that just how we all feel so many times in our lives?
I hated that there was so much tension with Thalli and Brek. They spent so much time apart, which frankly just made me angsty. My head understood why it was necessary and realistic, but my heart kept shouting NO and wanting to smoosh them together to kiss like I did to my barbies as a kid.
This book felt so different from the first. The tone was different, the setting was different, and Thalli was different. It was an adjustment as a reader just as much as it was for our protagonist to slowly begin to make sense of the world she was entering. Where Anomaly deals with love and being different, this one was about learning to make a life in a world she never knew existed. She is having to focus on herself – who she really is and what that means – which calls for a lot of internal struggle and growth in Thalli.
Thalli makes the brave choice to be a spy/ambassador for her new home, a settlement called New Hope and a larger town of Athens. There is basically a David and Goliath thing happening here and people are getting hurt. New Hope reminded me of the settlement in Ann Aguirre’s Outpost, where Athens reminded me of the kingdom in Defy. Of course, the first person Thalli meets is the charming Prince Alex. He is smitten with her and becomes her guide while she is visiting. The dialogue between these two is very stilted — I don’t know why, but the conversations just didn’t seem to flow as naturally as others.
Of course, there is a major plot twist shortly after she arrives in Athens. One that made me roll my eyes. I can’t go into detail, because *spoilers* but the character’s decision is so outrageous and out of left field. However, after I recovered, I was able to go along for the ride. And Thalli’s reaction and responses made me proud. She is really a great character, using her head unlike so many teenage characters!
“But I understand what he is doing. The same thing I did for years: He is repeating what he has been taught.”
This book has so many great messages and was once again engaging and enjoyable. There is the idea of how we deal when we find out that things are not what they seem. There is the idea of power – how those who have it can become twisted and corrupted. And how corruption comes in many ways. There is also the idea that someone can believe in something so much, and yet it be something so different from their enemies ideas of wrong and right. It shows how much grey comes with justice, morality, ethics, and life in general.
If I was to compare the two, I would say I loved the first book a lot more than this one. But, overall the series is one I’ve enjoyed. And now, I just have to deal with waiting to know what happens next.
About the Author
Connect with Krista
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3 sets of print copies of Anomaly and Luminary (US only)
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