Saturday, 23 February 2013

Review: What We Become by Jesse Karp

"There is a mind out in the city. It is more powerful than any mind before. I want it."
The Old Man wants absolute power. He knows Mal can give it to him.

"Fight me."
Mal will fight to the death to keep the Ole Man form getting what he wants. Somewhere, Laura, the girl that Mal loves, is safe. He will not let the Old Man take that away from her.

"Tell me, Laura, what is your life like now?"
Laura's life is hollow, as if the best part of her is gone. She must find what she lost. If she doesn't, there is no more her.

Mal and Laura are on a collision course: with each other, with the Old Man, with the end of a battle begun two years earlier.
They will probably lose. They will probably die. Bu not to try, to give up now, would be worse.

In this haunting companion to Those That Wake, Jesse Karp brings us a story of love, memories, and what it means to fight, even when you know you can't win.

What We Become is an absolutely amazing sequel to Those That Wake. It's got incredible depth, fantastic characters, and a fast-paced and intense plot. I really loved this book, way more than I expected to! Those That Wake didn't rank too high on my favourite dystopians, but this one totally blew me away. What We Become is a novel about strength, loyalty, love and sacrifice, and it leaves you with a heartfelt message and, above all, hope.

The world building in this book as well as in Those That Wake is very intricate and detailed, and I loved the premise from the first page itself. Mal and Laura live in a world where technology has taken over. In Those That Wake, they defeated the Man in Suit and stopped hopelessness spreading all over New York City. This time, though, they have to stop the Old Man from taking over the minds of every single person in the city. There's a problem, though. Laura remembers nothing about the events that transpired in Those That Wake. She has no idea who Mal is, or Remak, or Mike. She's going to college, trying to enjoy herself and live her life. But she feels empty, like she knows her memories have been taken. Laura's quest to find answers and, eventually, Mal, is a remarkable and life-altering one.

I loved, loved, loved Mal in this book. He's a powerful fighter with unyielding strength, and he'll do whatever it takes to stop the Old Man. He's someone who will never give up, no matter what. Mal's resilience is amazing, and I honestly think he's one of the best YA protagonists out there. Mal's had it tough his whole life, and Laura was the one bright thing that happened to him. To have her not remember him at all must have killed him, but he knew he couldn't dwell on it, because he had to save his city. I think these lines from the book sum up who Mal really is throughout most of the book - 
There was so little left for him, so little to hang on to, to look forward to. He wasn't afraid to lose anything, because there was nothing left to lose. He battled life just because he wasn't willing to give up the fight.
Mal is incredibly selfless, and even though he knows his brother, Tommy, doesn't remember him either, he still regularly sends him money so that he and his wife can have a good life. Mal is all alone initially, with the exception of Rose, a girl he meets on the streets. They stick together, but Mal's heart remains with Laura. I really admire his strength, and how he keeps going no matter how much pain he's in. There was a lot of graphic imagery of his fights and injuries, which made me kind of queasy, but it also made me open my eyes to how tough Mal really is.

Laura, as I've mentioned, doesn't remember anything that happened to her in the past few months. Her parents remember her again, after they had forgotten her in Those That Wake, and they find nothing amiss either. A few memories, or certain feelings and intuition, come back to Laura, and she desperately wants to find what she's lost. She breaks up with her boyfriend and drops college to set off and find answers. With her is Aaron, the son of the late founder of Intellitech, the company that makes all the tech gadgets that everyone is so immersed in. Together, they discover remnants of Laura's past and even meet the Librarian. But Laura only regains all of her memories the moment she sets eyes on Mal. I love Laura's steely determination to find what she needs, as well as her ability to see the good in everyone.

I was annoyed that Mal and Laura's reunion took so long (more than three-quarters of the book!) but I forgive Jesse Karp for that because the reunion was everything I expected and more. My heart stopped when they finally met, and it pounded throughout the whole chapter. Mal and Laura complement each other very well, and they're amazing together. They really do bring out the best in each other. I loved every second of the time that they spent together, but I just wish there was more. I really want to share part of a page from the book, my favourite one from the whole book, and the one that summarizes exactly what Mal feels for Laura.
Through his eyes, she did not see the same Laura she saw every day in the mirror. She saw herself through the prism of Mal's longing. One facet glowed with his awe of her: her ability to feel so openly and earnestly, her connection to the world and the people around her, her willingness to give herself to them. Another facet shone with her fragility, which bred in Mal the fierce, indestructible need to protect her, to make sure her open and earnest heart was never, never tarnished or tainted or bruised, because, to him, it was the only good, true thing in the entire world.
This is the final line of the paragraph, and I think it's the best line in the whole book - 
To him, she was the hope that real happiness of any sort could exist in the world.
What We Become has a heart-wrenching ending that brought tears to my eyes. It's very bittersweet, and very unexpected. I understand why Jesse Karp wrote it, but I wish it was different. But I knew that this book wouldn't have a classic happy ending for everyone. Those last couple of chapters really were unforgettable, and I even lay awake the night I finished the book, thinking about Mal and Laura, the characters I fell in love with and the ones that just feel so real to me.

Of course, Aaron and Rose were both amazing supporting character too. Aaron is amazingly well-informed and mature for his young age (he's only eleven!). And I think he kind of has a crush on Laura. I liked that he really grew to care about her, and made some great decisions in the end. Aaron's character developed a lot throughout the novel, and he becomes someone that his dad would be really proud of.
I wasn't a huge fan of Rose initially, I felt she was too whiny. And too clingy with Mal. I mean, okay you didn't have a great life, but Mal doesn't like you that way. So suck it up. Her jealousy of Laura was also quite annoying. She even wanted to change Mal's memories and replace Laura with herself! Talk about psychotic... But Rose really did step up in the end. She showed great courage, and actually stood up against someone. And later on, she becomes a nurse and helps people who were like her, which I really admire.

What I love most about this book were the characters. They really came alive to me, so much more than the plot did. Sometimes the plot was too technical for me, and I had a hard time understanding all the semantics. But I really connected with Mal and Laura, and even Aaron and Rose. All four of them are amazingly strong characters, and they're what makes this book so awesome. I'd definitely recommend this book and series to anyone who loves dystopia - the concept is intriguing and this book is just so emotional! I really didn't expect that, since the whole population of New York City is so detached in this series. But the last quarter of What We Become is intense and heartbreaking and exhilarating all at once, so the emotions you'll feel are overwhelming! I will definitely be re-reading this series when I can, just for this amazing book.

*Thank you to Jesse Karp for providing an ARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

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