Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: The Always War - Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Always War by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: YA, futuristic
Published on November 15, 2011
Published by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 197
Read From: 2.24.12 - 2.24.12

For as long as Tessa can remember, her country has been at war. When local golden boy Gideon Thrall is awarded a medal for courage, it's a rare bright spot for everyone in Tessa's town - until Gideon refuses the award, claims he was a coward, and runs away. Tessa is bewildered, and can't help but follow Gideon to find out the truth. But Tessa is in for more than she bargained for. Before she knows it, she has stowed away on a rogue airplane headed for enemy territory. But all that pales when she discovers a shocking truth that rocks the foundation of everything she's ever believed - a truth that could change the world.


Not at all Margaret Peterson Haddix's best book. At only 197 pages, it's not at all a long book, and the story manages to feel even shorter than that mere 197 pages. It has hardly begun before it is over, and I somehow doubt that there is going to be a sequel, though there is certainly room for one if the Author ever decides to write one. In the short time the Reader gets to know the characters, I didn't bond with any of them. Tessa quickly grows annoying with her constant blaming of Gideon and her whiny attitude. Meanwhile, Gideon has no personality beyond his perfect blonde hair and self-criticism sessions. Whatever small romantic attachment there is supposed to be between Tessa and Gideon falls massively flat.

The book definitely begins with potential. The Author wastes no time in getting into the story, and normally that is a good thing. But as I said earlier, the story no sooner starts than it is over. I felt that if it had been a movie and I had blinked, I would have missed the entire thing. And then it begins to drag its feet, but starts to show promise once more by the end of Chapter 18. And then the ending comes. The "twist" is nothing new - just your average nuclear holocaust/intelligent computers/humans-destroying-the-world-and-themselves. And then, right when the "twist" is revealed, the book ends. Like that. Nothing more; doesn't even say good-bye to its Reader.

So, not the Author's best bit of work, way too emotional characters who manage to have no personality at the same time, an unsurprising twist, and a very abrupt ending. I think that this is actually a book that could have benefited from being lengthier. Give us chapters to get to know the characters. Expand the plotline.

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