Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

April 3, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 21 ★★★½

Plus OnePlus One by Elizabeth Fama
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers on April 8th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy the Book
<p>Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.</p>
<p>Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.</p>
<p>Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, <em>Plus One</em> is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.</p>

The premise behind Plus One is something so unique and incredibly intriguing to me. In a bizarre alternative to history, when the Spanish Influenza epidemic hit in 1918, the population divided into two groups, Day and Night. The Rays and the Smudges. Neither group is allowed outside at a time other than what they have been designated. When we meet our main character Sol, she is trying to purposely injure herself at her factory job so she could not only be sent to the hospital but be allowed out in the daytime when she is typically forbidden, since she is a Smudge. Her reasoning? Kidnap her newborn niece, the daughter of her estranged Ray brother, and bring the girl to meet her dying grandfather before he passes. I completely admired Sol’s love for her grandfather, Poppu. She was risking her future, jail, to just allow her grandfather one moment of happiness before he died. That’s all that mattered to her, nothing else. Well what she encountered not only brought her on the road to disaster, but also brought her love where she least expected it. This is a tough one for me to review because there were so many things I loved about this book yet there were also things that didn’t work for me too. So I’m going to break it down with what I liked and didn’t. What I didn’t like: I read the synopsis so I knew there would be baby kidnapping but I can’t help that the whole scenario was a little off-putting to me. I guess I didn’t expect it to be as huge of a focus in the storyline. And it really was. Everything that happens is related to a kidnapping of some sort, and there is more than one going on. Sol’s intentions were good but obviously the actions were so very wrong. The first kidnapping snowballs and basically awakens knowledge on all sorts of issues that are based on the Day/Night divide, things we discover with MORE kidnappings with not so great intentions. Maybe it’s because I am about to have a baby myself that it made
me extra sensitive about the whole thing? I am not sure. I just know that part of me was bothered by reading that whole aspect. Some of these not so great intentions all came down to technology. Questionable science experiments and then also technology surrounding the mandated phones everyone carried that kept all of their personnel information. The science experiment stuff I completely got but the phone nonsense was just that, kind of nonsense to me. These phones were a huge part of society and were monitored severely. All I kept thinking about was how many times I’ve lost my phone or my husband has broken his. lol We’d be screwed in this world. The technological advancements people were after just didn’t feel important enough for the lengths they were willing to go to get their way, like kidnapping innocent newborns. The pacing wasn’t always great for me either. There just wasn’t that wow factor driving me to pick the book up whenever I had a chance and I found myself constantly checking how far I was into it to see if I had made any progress. I enjoyed the story on a whole but getting there at times was a struggle. What I did like: The entire world building concept was fascinating! I loved the explanation of the Day/Night divide and how it related to the doctor and nurse shifts during the second wave of the Spanish Flu. The change in crowds at certain times helped lessen the spread and the system was made permanent for all. Unlike anything I’ve read before! Throughout Sol’s journey in the book, she finds help in unexpected places, like people who follow their own rules called the Noma. They are a tough crowd that are feared by most. They are like a gang of punks that give attitude, not smiles and will rob and beat you if you meet them in the wrong place. They added an interesting twist and one character in particular, Gigi, was one of my favorite characters. She was very complex and my heart hurt for her quite a few times throughout. She had a tough exterior but on the inside she was a hurt girl just trying to get by. I loved everything and anything to do with the romance. I loved how Sol met D’Arcy and how rough their relationship was in the beginning. I love how he risked so much on a whim to help her. I love how they ended up having a back story that made their connection even sweeter. I loved their protectiveness of each other. And I loved their chemistry that absolutely sizzled.

He whispered, with both a definiteness and a quaver of vulnerability, “I want to be alone with you.”

Despite my issues with pacing and not finding that edge-of-your-seat feel, the details in the writing were beautiful in a lot of moments. There are a few scenes in particular where Sol and D’Arcy find themselves in a park admiring parts of the world that were so new to them due to the confines of their Day/Night statuses. The imagery was amazing and so well done. I can’t write a review for this book and not mention the cover. It is seriously beyond gorgeous! I could stare and stare at it. And it fits the storyline beautifully. Though I found aspects I liked and didn’t like, overall I enjoyed the story and would recommend it. I would love to check out more writing from this author in the future.


About Elizabeth Fama

Elizabeth Fama is the author of Plus One (FSG, 2014), Monstrous Beauty (FSG, 2012), a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and Odyssey Award honor winner, and Overboard (Cricket Books, 2002), an ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

21 Responses to “Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama”

  1. tonyalee

    Hmm. I am not sure this one I would enjoy, especially because of the things you pointed out. I might give it a go though!

  2. Neysa Kristanti

    Ooh, I’ve been eyeing this one for quite a bot, and yep, this does sounds like an interesting book with its Day/Night concept!
    Sad to hear that the pacing wasn’t something special and that the story revolves around kidnapping and more kidnapping, though 🙁
    But since it has a beautiful world building and all, I would definitely try it!
    Great review 😀

    Neysa @ Papier Revue
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  3. Summer/Sunny

    I think pacing is crucial so that makes me a little nervous since slowness kills my reading pleasure. But everything you did like makes me want to clap like a seal, no lie. THAT CHEMISTRY. Gosh, I felt like fanning myself at that one little quote. I’ll definitely read this sometime, but now I’ll know what to prepare myself for thanks to your great (as always) review!
    Summer/Sunny recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #4My Profile

  4. Lily

    In all honesty i had stayed away from this one because i hadn’t heard so much about it but with the release date coming closer I keep reading reviews for this one everywhere. hmm now i’m trying to decide if i really should give this one a chance. I can see how the whole kidnapping thing might be offputting, i mean i’m a teeanger and i know i’m not awaiting a newborn like you are but i do have a younger sister i always worry about when it comes to that sort of stuff so i think i’d still feel a bit effy about it. Either way great review! i might just go check this one out!
    Lily @ lilysbookblog 🙂
    Lily recently posted…To All the Boys I’ve loved Before(To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before#1):ReviewMy Profile

  5. BornBookish

    Thanks for introducing me to this one!! It sounds so incredibly unique I’m willing to pick it up just for that reason alone. Usually if I’ve been warned the slow pace won’t bother me as much. Super review =)
    BornBookish recently posted…Monthly Releases: AprilMy Profile

  6. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I felt the same way about the kidnapping (and congrats on upcoming baby!). I have a 4 year old son so thought I was sensitive because of that. It was such a large part of the story. I wish it could have centered on something else. But, like you I enjoyed so many other aspects of this book. Great review!
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  7. Tanja

    The whole setting of this story is something that’s so appealing to me. I mean that period is full of tragic stories and happenings so I’m sure I’d turn pages quickly just to read it. Only problem is that I have heard it’s a bit confusing and I’m not really happy about it. Great review, Sara 🙂
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  8. Jen @ YA Romantics

    I was kind of on the fence about whether to try this and have been waiting for reviews. I saw that another blogger (whose taste doesn’t always mesh with mine) complained about baby kidnapping thing part of the plot. Not sure how I feel about that and the fact that it’s a big part of the book.
    I don’t mind slow-paced books if the writing is good, and I know that Monstrous Beauty (this author’s prior book) was supposed to be beautifully written.
    So…. after reading your review, I’m putting this on my library request list and I’m going to give it a try!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics
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  9. starryeyedjen

    For whatever reason — maybe because this is fiction and it FELT like fiction — the babynapping didn’t really bother me. I mean, when she stuffs the kid in her sweater and practically ignores it, yeah, I was a little annoyed, but she’s a kid herself pretty much. I think the rest of the novel more than made up for that aspect, at least for me. Glad you found it at least somewhat enjoyable!
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  10. Vivien

    While you didn’t love this one I am glad you were able to enjoy it. I’ve been wanting to read this book for months because I absolutely loved Monstrous Beauty. It really does sound like a very promising read!

  11. Tymon

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