Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #62: ACID by Emma Pass

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #62: ACID by Emma PassACID by Emma Pass
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham, Nicholas Guy Smith, Suzan Crowley
Length: 10 hrs, 47 mins
Published by Listening Library on March 11, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong's world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna's violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary. When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn't know who to trust?

Strong, gritty writing, irresistible psychological suspense, and action consume the novel as Jenna struggles to survive against the all-controlling ACID. Seriously sinister stuff.

Recommended by: Kayla Beck (Bibliophilia, Please)

ACID has been coming in with mixed reviews so far, and I’m going to plunk myself right down in the middle of the spectrum. Emma Pass has written a fairly solid debut, which hearkens more to classic dystopias than the typical YA ones but will also ultimately be rather forgettable.Then again, I’ve read hundreds of dystopian novels at this point, so my standards are somewhat high and not easily impressed.

Let’s talk first about the dystopian world of ACID. Pass’ novel takes place in a future Britain which, due to an economic downturn, was taken over by ACID, the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defense. The head of ACID defaults to the position of the president of the IRB, which is the name of the country now (though I can’t remember what the acronym was for because audiobook). ACID rules with an iron fist, controlling everything. Like classic 1984, people are required to spend a certain amount of time doing certain things and can be turned in for having an opinion that doesn’t follow the party line. ACID pretty convincingly controls all facets of life, down to people’s minds. It is truly, unquestionably dystopian.

In classic style, both for YA and adult dystopias, ACID also controls marriage and reproduction. One thing I found strange about this book is that it’s no longer called marriage; rather, it’s life partnering. At first, I was excited because I thought it meant that being gay was acceptable, but, nope, that is not the case. ACID chooses the life partner for you (professions too!) and then sends a notification when the couple is allowed to have a child.

Jenna Strong, the heroine, has been imprisoned for murdering her parents. It was totally an accident though, so she feels like it’s really unfair that she has to be in this horribly violent prison. I’m of two minds about Jenna. Basically, she is a bit of a badass, like the cover girl, because she is awesome at fighting. Plus, she’s pretty much always trying to do the right thing. However, she’s often not the cleverest and ends up trying to do the right thing but in a way that’s obviously going to backfire. Plus, like many a badass female heroine, a cute boy makes her into a gooey ball of girl sometimes.

The romance was what fell flattest for me. The couple had entirely no banter, which, for me, means that I’m generally no going to feel any sort of a spark between them, which was certainly the case with ACID. Plus, it’s another case where the feelings come REALLY quickly and without any motivation that I could understand. And, of course, Jenna’s thinking about him constantly even though they’ve spent very little time together, though, I will admit, that most of the time she does put her head over her heart in making choices. I also found it hard to believe how gorgeous the guy was, considering the conditions in which he was living the whole time.

Other than that, the pacing felt a bit uneven. There would be a whole lot of dramatic action and scary government stuff and then the book would stall out on boring day to day life in the IRB. I get why that was happening, but that also wasn’t the endgame obviously, so I’m just waiting for it to be over every time and it does go on a bit. The ending was also a bit bananaballs, and I question whether it would have been feasible for Jenna to not get caught doing what she was, because ACID would totally be monitoring.

The audio version is beautifully done, full of British accents and high quality production. This was a major factor in my enjoyment. Fiona Hardingham does the bulk of the narration, as she’s Jenna, and her voice has a nice youthful quality. She’s also not using the polished upper crust British accent so common in audiobook narration, which was a really fun change.

All told, I thought ACID was a pretty decent debut novel, though with some pacing and romance issues. The dystopian society follows classic lines, which was a nice change from some of the highly improbable ones created in YA.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

shrug gif

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2 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #62: ACID by Emma Pass”

  1. Kayla Beck says:

    I know I’m a terrible person because I recommended this to you and all, but I remember almost nothing about this book! I read it sometime last year, and I’m having a major brain fart. If I remember right, I hated the weird time jumps and thought it would have been better if it had been fleshed out and made into two books. Basically, just imagine me doing what the dude in your gif is doing.

    Okay, I just looked at my review. I said Jenna was TDTL at the end, and that I was missing bits. *scratches head*
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Book Blast (Book Trailer): The Chalice by Nancy BilyeauMy Profile

  2. Bonnie says:

    And again, another possibly decent book brought down by a lame romance. Whenever I encounter this (which is often) I always think back to Orleans which was completely amazing with zero romance. So I know it’s possible. So why isn’t it done MORE? *whine whine whine* Sounds like a decent enough book worth a read but I’ll likely be skipping it. Great review though!
    Bonnie recently posted…Book Review – Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh MafiMy Profile

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