ARC Review: The Revealed by Jessica Hickam
Take a dystopian novel then add in what are essentially X-Men mutants, and you’ve basically got The Revealed.
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I was both really surprised and really impressed with Hickam’s debut novel.
I requested this book on NetGalley because of that amazing summary (and that absolutely beautiful cover!). It sounds super cool, right? Well, it was. The novel begins with our narrator, Lily, describing the current situation in what is now called the “North American Sector,” which is basically the ruins of the United States after a huge war. The US has been mostly destroyed and everyone who survived the war all live on the East Coast. Lily is the daughter of one of two presidential candidates in the first election since the war. Roderick Westerfield is the other candidate, who has a son named Kai. Since the war, a group of people with special abilities called The Revealed has been kidnapping 18 year olds sometime before their 19th birthday. Lily has been marked to be taken, and as such, has been locked up in her home for the year just like every other 18 year old. (I’d like to mention that her house is a freaking mansion.)
So one of the things I really liked was that Hickam hints at the war, but never truly reveals any details. We don’t know what caused it, how it happened, and we only get a few details for what’s happened since then. I thought this was quite clever, and it kept me reading. I do hope, however, that we get more details as the series progresses. Another thing I liked was how well-done Westerfield was as a villain. He feels positively slimy and icky. When he is touching Lily while they dance at a party, my skin crawled.
The writing was fantastic. I’m surprised this is Hickam’s first novel. She’s a wonderful writer. Hickam’s got great descriptive abilities; I could picture everything she described and her characters are really well done (well, except one, which I’ll mention in a sec). Her writing was my favorite thing about this novel.
Okay. What I didn’t like was Lily actually. She was seriously inconsistent and selfish and immature. She’s gone through so much in her young life that I felt her immaturity was strange. All she wants to do is rebel against her family and she tries (and succeeds) to escape her house several times, which I do understand because her mother is horrible; however, she begins the novel saying her father came to her for advice all the time on his speeches and cared about her opinion, but later she says that since he announced his candidacy, they’ve been on bad terms. Um, what? Also, her love interest in Kai is crazy. Her family used to be close to his but then the war happened and her father and his announced their candidacies; things changed. He betrayed her when they were in high school then joined the military. Now he’s back and she trusts him again, even when he really doesn’t give her much reason to. It wasn’t exactly insta-love, but it was a little too close for my comfort. She was basically like this, “I hate him. I like him. I don’t like him. He’s so hot. I can’t like him. I do like him.” UGH. I would like to say that I thought Lily started off the novel so strong, independent and forceful, and then suddenly she’s whiny, vulnerable, and weak. This was strange, and it happened too quickly to be a believable change.
On the other hand, I really loved Rory, who is an intern in Lily’s mansion’s kitchen. Oh, yeah. She lives in a freaking mansion, but she keeps trying to rebel and escape. What? Anyway, Rory is Lily’s best friend, and she’s great. She’s feisty, strong, and rambunctious, and I would totally be friends with her.
Also, there’s a twist about ¾ of the way through that I thought I knew what was going to happen and was totally SHOCKED. So that’s really awesome. Additionally, I won’t give too much away, but when we finally meet The Revealed and they explain themselves and what’s been happening, I loved that. It was a really cool way to explain their powers. Just all around great ideas in this novel.
I really liked this novel, and I think this series has a whole bunch of awesome potential. I will most definitely read the next in the series, but I hope that our main character has grown some and gotten over herself. I would recommend this book for sure.