This review is spoiler free.
‘What’s “conflict”?’ Ilex says.
‘He means the war. This is not long after the Long War finished.’
‘Why doesn’t he say “war”? Then people know,’ he says.
‘I expect he thinks “conflict” sounds better, or, at least, less awful,” I say.
‘People still died,” Kay says.
Series: The Disappeared
Published: 2013, by Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Contains: Violence, Anger, Cannibalism, Death, Teenage Pregnancy, Crude Humour, Arson/Fire
‘The Disappeared’ follows seventeen-year-old Jackson as his life is suddenly sprung into turmoil after he was attacked while delivering a package on behalf of his school. Set in a dystopian world where children are segregated into institutions based on their intelligence, Jackson comes from a top ‘Learning Community’, until he is stripped completely of his identity. Dismissed by his teachers who claim not to know him, Jackson is given a new identity and sent to live in an ‘Academy’, being forced to adjust to a brutal world he didn’t even know existed.
This book has been on my Amazon wish list for so long, and I finally managed to acquire a copy earlier last year. I’m unsure how I originally came across the series, possibly by a Goodreads recommendation, but I’m so thankful I kept it on my list for as long as I did; it was well worth the wait.
Jackson himself is an extremely well-developed character. Although, his personality and behaviour during the first half of the novel is insufferable at times, I unfortunately had to accept the fact that it was necessary for the incredible character we have for the second half of the novel. Jackson is initially arrogant, a display of the stubborn and stuck-up society bred in the Learning Community, before he is introduced to Academy life. There is where his character shows its true colours. The progression from the initial conversation between Jackson and Wilson, to where we leave him at the end of the story is brilliant to read; Jackson’s character educates himself so much, enough to transform a lifetime of views on a whole society of people, that it’s impossible not to admire him by the end.
However, Kay’s character is one who’s impossible not to love from her introduction. Being a child in the Academy, her level of intelligence is significantly less than Jackson’s, due to the differences in education. Yet, what she lacks in language, she makes up for in passion and drive. Throughout the novel, Kay is the first to put Jackson’s snobbery in its place, immediately standing up for herself whenever he’d comment on her language or use a word she doesn’t understand. Her character is one to greatly admire; she knows she isn’t as smart as Jackson, yet refuses to apologise or see herself as beneath him for it. She knows what she wants in life, and won’t let anyone come between her and it.
The story itself is fact-paced, each chapter composed of brutal action. The short length of the chapters assist this, Harper’s concise language moving the story along quickly while the first person narrative keeps you engaged with Jackson’s struggles. Although, the plot itself isn’t exactly unique, there being countless amounts of dystopia’s based on segregation and intelligence levels, it still made for an enjoyable, easy read.
Overall, I deeply enjoyed this novel. Even though it was cliche in places, the well-paced narrative and lovable characters more than made up for it.