Title: Dark Parties
Author: Sara Grant
Genre: Dystopian, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Indigo (22nd December 2011)
Neva keeps a list of The Missing – people like her grandmother who have vanished. The people that everyone pretends never existed.
In a world isolated by the Protectosphere – a dome which protecrs, but also imprisons – Neva and her friends dream of freedom.
But a forbidden party leads to complications. Suddenly, Neva’s falling for her best friend’s boyfriend, uncovering secrets and lies that threaten to destroy her world – and learning he truth about what happens to The Missing . . .
Rating: ** (2 stars)
Dark Parties is Sara Grant’s debut novel. It tells the story of Neva, a sixteen-year-old girl in a dystopian world, who feels trapped in a world she cannot connect with.
This was an interesting book. I really wanted to like it, as the book is filled with soooo much potential but I walked away disappointed. Dark Parties is very similar to many books within the dystopian genre, but it didn’t add anything – there were no new twists or surprises in the plot to leave me desperately turning pages to find out what happens next. The start of the story is slow. It takes a while to get into the real meat of the plot.
Neva is a likeable main character, I just found it really difficult to understand her motives. She is six when she loses her grandmother who refers to her as ‘my snowflake’ (which I personally find a little creepy, but I can live with it) and at sixteen she remembers a LOT about her time with her grandmother. I liked the close relationship Grant had between grandmother and granddaughter, but strangely Neva seemed very distant from her parents. She seemed to have little empathy or understanding towards them, and whilst I could write this off to straight teenage rebellion this idea doesn’t seem to ring true. Especially as it is hinted that Neva had a close relationship with her father in the past.
Grant uses Neva’s feelings and past relationship with her grandmother as the catalyst for Neva’s dislike of the Protectosphere. Neva also keeps a list of the ‘missing’ – people who Neva ‘knew’ who just disappeared one day with no explanation. These, along with Neva’s friendship with Sanna, are supposed to motivate Neva towards rebellion – but I can’t help but wonder what exactly the catalyst was, other than seemingly becoming an adult. There is no single event that Neva mentions at the beginning of the book that for me would be a reasonable explanation for her rebellion. Neva’s friendship with Sanna is an interesting one, and some of the issues explored in it are complicated – some of Neva’s actions towards her best friend don’t show her in the best light, but she is willing to do anything for Sanna.
As I mentioned earlier there is a lot of potential in this book, but none of it really makes it onto centre stage. There are good reasons for Neva and her friends to rebel, the trouble is as a reader you don’t come across them until near the end of the book. I would have loved it if Grant had explored these murky aspects more, and actually used them as motivation to drive the plot.
Having said that, there is something compelling about Dark Parties. In part, I think, because of the simplicity of the plot. It is an enjoyable, if uncomplex, read. It is a dystopian that isn’t very dark, though there are hints of darker things hidden in the fringe of the world. If you are interesting in exploring dystopian fiction, but don’t want to read anything too dark then this book would be a good place to start.