Dark Parties (review)
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Reviewed by
Grant, Sara. Dark Parties. Little, 2011. [308p]. ISBN 978-0-316-08594-6 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7-10.

Sixteen-year-old Neva is alarmed that the list of the missing she's been keeping for years seems to be growing at an exponential rate recently. She's most grieved to have lost her grandmother, but she's disturbed that anyone can disappear inside the [End Page 519] Protectosphere, a shield that keeps the citizens isolated from the rest of the world. Neva and her best friend, Sanna, are bold enough to try to get the attention of the government and force the extremely guarded authorities to share information, resources, and options with the mostly powerless citizenry. Their first political protest seems to go well, in that it does get them noticed, but notice may not be ideal in a community where teen girls are drugged and impregnated to build up population numbers, resources are extremely scarce, and folks seem to get killed off at shocking rates. The world inside the Protectosphere, which is pretty obviously not the only safe place left, despite government claims, is creepy, claustrophobic, and perfectly described as a well-intentioned experiment gone horrifically awry. Unfortunately, the absurd number of contrivances (well-timed chances to get at obsessively guarded computers, hunky boys who are good, then bad, then, just when it seems hopeless, turn good again) that drive the plot make the whole novel less powerful. In addition, the repeating musings on individuality in a world that emphasizes similarities are intriguing but overdone and overexplained, leaving little for the reader to ponder after closing the book. Nevertheless, the weaknesses are balanced by a desperate and passionate first romance, an amiable protagonist with excellent intentions, and a cool sci-fi background.

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