Acid by Emma Pass (2013) – borrowed from my local library
The year is 2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID—the most brutal controlling police force in history—rule supreme. No throwaway comment or whispered dissent goes unnoticed—or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a horrendous crime she struggles to remember. But Jenna’s violent prison time has taught her how to survive by any means necessary.
When a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed, and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID, and try to uncover the truth about what really happened on that terrible night two years ago. They have taken her life, her freedom, and her true memories away from her. How can she reclaim anything when she doesn’t know who to trust?
I’ve wanted to read this book for a while now, so when it popped up as available from my local library I jumped on it faster than a… fast thing.
So, what worked for me?
Orwellian Tradition – Much like many SF distopian types, it owes much to the legacy left behind by Orwell’s 1984. It’s going to be a recurring thing because that fear never changes- keeping tabs on people electronically, an overbearing police system in power, continents shut off and deemed ‘dangerous’, marriage and childbirth controlled. And tech, tech, tech! For me, Acid got these bits right. It felt like it could be our world fast-forwarded.
Location, location, location – Yay for Brit Lit! I always get excited when I find a breakthrough YA title set in my country. Don’t get me wrong, I love American teen literature, but the market it saturated with it. It’s refreshing to be on home soil for once. Also, I love the names of the prison facilities in this book. Innis Ifrin? It just sounds cool. Has the ‘Alcatraz’ effect.
Jenna – The first few scenes with her are fantastic! She’s a badass bitch, that’s for sure. And I love me a badass bitch.
What didn’t work for me?
Max – I failed to really see the point of this secondary character. He didn’t have enough page time to qualify as a serious romantic interest, and I felt like he was only there to further motivate Jenna towards the end goal. But I think her personality would have meant she ended up where she did anyway. With or without him. He just didn’t do anything for me in the ‘book boyfriend’ area. I know that isn’t really the point here, but I can’t help it. I love me some zing between two people!
The end. – Wha? It ends so fast! I felt like the ending was rushed because there were so many other implications to consider! You can topple a corrupt governing body.. but what are you left with? A lot of people might be relieved, sure, but there are going to be those that can’t, and won’t, readjust. And they’ll be some proper angry mofos too! I guess this counts as a positive too… I was left wanting more.
This is my face, there are many like it, but this one is mine – Ok, so if you haven’t watched Full Metal Jacket, then that opener will be lost on you. But basically, Jenna has her identity changed three times (I think? Is it three? Technically four?) but by the end she has regained her originally self, face and all. The problem I had with this was that there seemed to be no consideration for adjustment. Max doesn’t seem to falter in his feelings, even though the face of the girl he knew has disappeared and has been replaced by a stranger. Wouldn’t that freak you out a little bit? Ok, there can be a point made about a person being more than the sum of their parts (thanks Aristotle for that one), but you can’t shrug off the literal recognition you have when you look at someone. You know their face. You know their expressions. And all of that changes if you transplant your whole face, no?
Maybe this relates to the point above. I felt like I needed more considering the themes explored.
Acid was good fun. I felt like it could have been better though. Like, I wanted it to be balls to the walls action fun party time! Woo! (With a healthy dose of romance slapped on both sides of the bread) But what I got didn’t quite fit the description of the menu. It was like ordering a cheese-tuna toastie and getting a regular sandwich. The ingredients are the same… but it lacked that extra guilty pleasure, you know?
(mmmmelted cheeese. That’s what I’m talking about!)
It’s strange, because the story, and character, has stayed with me, but I think I just wish it was longer. Given more space I doubt I would have had many grumbles at all.
Still, I’m happy to give this book 4 out of 5. It’s creative; the use of visual propaganda and letters was a real nice touch, and I thought there were some real crackin’ moments to savour.