Author: Sara Grant
Publisher: Indigo (UK)
Release Date: December 2011 (UK)
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: Review copy from publisher
Description from back cover: Every tiny act of defiance adds up. Maybe this one snowflake can start an avalanche.
Neva keeps a list of The Missing - people like her grandmother who have vanished. The people that everyone else pretends never existed. In a world isolated by the Protectosphere - a dome which protects, 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 the horrifying truth about what happens to The Missing.
My thoughts: I'm not normally very interested in dystopian novels. They just don't appeal to me for a variety of reasons. But when people started talking about 'Dark Parties' by Sara Grant I thought it sounded different, and I'm very glad I gave it a shot. I was lucky enough to get a copy for review, and it kept me entertained on a couple of long journeys.
The story starts with Neva and her friend Sanna holding a 'dark party' with their friends. In a city which never really gets totally dark, they get tape and cushions to block out every scrap of light in the room. Then the girls tell everyone their real plan: they want to do something to tell their oppressive government that they don't want to listen to it any more, and they are fed up of the constant propaganda praising the protectosphere. The first hitch: Neva's father works for the government, and all their employees must be beyond reproof. Any one of the people who are in on the plan could decide to snitch on them, and of course, someone does. Neva is questioned by the police, and only just escapes.
From then on, Neva walks a narrow line between passing the government's scrutiny, and continuing to search for the truth of what's going on, and what happens to the people who go missing. Of course, falling for Sanna's boyfriend, Braydon, is not helping things, and as you can guess, that leads to problems between the two girls. Sara Grant creates a believable new future where a couple of generations after people move in to the Protectosphere, problems of inbreeding, lack of resources, and food shortages are starting to plague the population. Neva and her friends are in the middle of it, declared adults now that they're 16, and being encouraged to take up government appointed jobs and start having children. I found it a very interesting situation to read about and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book.
Some of the plot twists were very unexpected, others not so much - I guessed what might be happening to the missing women a long time before Neva figures it out, and although she's kept ignorant to many things by the government, I think it should have occurred to her sooner what was going on. In the last few chapters though I could barely stand turning the page - just as I thought things were going to be ok, something went wrong, then it got better, then something worse happened! I really wasn't sure by the end how things were going to turn out.
This was a really enjoyable page-turner, and maybe I'll be brave enough to try some more dystopians soon. With 'Dark Parties' Sara Grant takes readers to a world where one person might just be able to start a revolution against an overly controlling government whose protectiveness is out of control. Can't wait to read the next book in this series and see what happens next! 8 out of 10.