Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Review: Cherry Heaven by L.J. Adlington

Book number two of 2009. And another dystopian novel. Remember how I said I love this genre? I think I'm beginning to feel overkill. Or maybe that was just the frustration of realizing part way through the book that I was reading a sequel/companion book without having read the first one. The jacket blares in several places that LJ Adlington also wrote The Diary of Pelly D, but it doesn't say anywhere that this is a sequel and/or companion piece.

Cherry Heaven is told via alternating points of view: one that alternates between third person limited and third person omniscient (most of the book follows Kat, but will jump to someone else's POV whenever it's convenient) while Kat and Tanka J move from the battle-scarred City Five with their foster parents to the peaceful New Frontier, while the other point of view is the first person journey of a girl escaping a brutal factory and journeying across the New Frontier to find her old home and seek revenge against the people who wronged her at the factory.

Yes, it's a little convoluted at times, but over all fairly enjoyable.

Kat and Tanka are orphans who have been raised by their foster parents, though Kat and Tanka call them aunt and uncle. When Aunt Milijue and Uncle Prester are offered prestigious positions in the New Frontier - invited by the leader of the New Frontier Q Essnid himself. The family moves into a homestead called Cherry Heaven - apparently ten years ago or so the cherries raised on this farm were legendary, but then a terrible tragedy befell the family, ending the cherry supply.

Ten years ago, the New Frontier almost fell victim to the violence that was tearing apart the cities on the other side of the planet (the violence that left Kat and Tanka orphans): a madman named Oklear Foster was killing people of the Galrezi gene clan (don't ask me what exactly that means - all I know is there are three gene clans in this world and the Galrezi are pretty much universally despised. And it is apparently possible to be of a different gene clan than your parents, because Kat and Tanka's parents were Galrezi while Kat and Tanka themselves are part of the elite Atsumisi gene clan), and among the people he killed was the family at Cherry Heaven. The house has sat empty since then, though the last cherry harvest has been left untouched in the cryo-freezer.

At the same time Kat and Tanka are moving into Cherry Heaven, Luka has escaped from the Blue Mountain bottled water bottling factory. She's been forced to endure barbaric working conditions at the hands of Director and Bossman for the last ten years. But she is determined to prove that she is not merely Galrezi scum, but is in fact smarter than anyone and hatches an ingenious - and painful - plan to escape. Of course, escaping the factory is just the first step. She has to travel on foot as winter looms, avoiding the security forces that are searching for her and want to put her back into the hellhole of the factory.

Kat and Tanka must adjust to life on the New Frontier as dangers loom around them. Wanted posters around town make Luka seem like a half-crazed maniac, and Kat is sure she keeps seeing a man lurking in the cherry orchard. In the meantime, they must also contend with finding new friends (and boyfriends), and an ongoing contest sponsored by Blue Mountain, where the finder of a marked bottle cap will win a day with the world's biggest movie star.

Overall I had a lot of frustrations with this book. There was so much that wasn't answered for me, and I'm not sure how much of that was because it's a sequel and how much was sloppy writing. Why on earth (well, whatever planet they're actually on - humans destroyed Earth through a multitude of wars long ago and humanity has now migrated to another planet) does everyone have gills? As I asked above, how can children belong to a different gene clan than their parents? I'm no scientist, but it seems to me that gene clan would refer to the genes you inherit from your parents. Did Milijue and Prester fake Kat and Tanka's gene test? And then there's the mystery at the heart of the novel - what happened ten years ago at Cherry Heaven? A satisfactory answer (or even excuse!) is never presented. I have to admit, I'm mildly curious as to how much of this is answered in the previous book, but I don't know if I'm curious enough to actually seek it out, as I fear I would just find more frustration.


Anonymous said...

I just finished this book and I thought that when they talk about what happened ten years ago in Cherry Heaven was the shootings that occured? And that the man who was actually innocent was brain-washed in prison.

Anonymous said...

I read the book for a book report and I got confused too many times. But in the end I fully understood it. I hate Q. Essnid!

Anonymous said...

I had to get a scifi book for school and honestly, I wasn't excited about it. But luckily I picked this book and I absolutely loved it! And it was perfect for my assignment.

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