Title: Tent City
Author: Kelly Van Hull
On the Shelves: young adult, fiction, dystopian
“After a devastating plague, introverted 17-year-old Dani Campbell and her family find themselves living in a very different America, one run by a cult-like leader, who forces children to move to “safety camps” designed to protect the human race. Encouraged to flee by her parents, Dani and her five-year-old brother seek refuge in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the run with danger around every corner, Dani must fight to ensure their survival in this new world while trying to unmask the mystery of how it all came to be” (Goodreads 2013)
It should be noted that I received a free copy of this book from the author for the purpose of reviewing. This is my first time reviewing a book for an author- which I’m grateful for having the experience of, but it always comes with the burden of wanting to give a positive review no matter what. Well, I’ve been asked to be “honest”, so honest is what I’m going to be.
First, I’ll explain my rating. With books, if I’m not intrigued by the first 60 pages, then something is not working for me. Because of my pressure to give a good review, I pushed myself until I couldn’t go further- I made it to 40% of the book, in this case.
On synopsis, this book should have been everything I love. I read a LOT of young adult dystopians, and maybe that is the problem for me. This book seemed to be in a rush to tick all of the “what is trendy in YA lately?” boxes without any real need or logic to. I didn’t feel any emotions towards the characters or the society because the pacing of the book is so quick that I never got the chance to, really. I didn’t care that she’d had to leave her parents behind, and I really should have.
I also am sick to the teeth of love triangles in YA, I tend to find them annoying and unnecessary- this book was no different. Dani spent most of the book getting “lost” in Bentley’s eyes…I recommend a map or a sat-nav. Speaking of repetition, there was an awful lot of “he said, she said” in this book and there was constant foreshadowing to the little brother becoming ill through the first 10 chapters of the book, which made little sense because he seemed perfectly healthy- so that became a non-subtle plot point which was dropped far too early in the story.
…I really wanted to like this book. I thought it would be one I loved but it just fell short and I can’t really figure out why. I think this might be the first negative review for this book on here, I’m sorry for that. The story had a lot of potential and a lot more people have loved this book. Something about it just didn’t click for me.
[An Additional and Personal note, the above was posted as my initial review on my goodreads, and it also happened to be the first negative review the book had attained since it’s publishing, according to the site. The author was not a happy bunny, and proceeded to behave quite unprofessionally towards me- not directly, but via the goodreads authors message boards, which unfortunately appeared all over my home page since we were “Friends” on the website. She took to raving about how I “owed” her at least to finish the book because she gave me a free copy and how “people just want something for nothing” with no thought or concern for those involved, along with many, many other snippy comments.
I quickly messaged her and told her that I have a very busy life, balancing three jobs including a masters dissertation, and my rule for reading is not to waste energy on books I do not like. It is indeed unfortunate that I disliked the book but many people, according to the other reviews, enjoyed it. I know some readers do feel the debt that when they buy a book, they HAVE to finish it, come pain or gain. I personally, disagree. And I’m okay with that.
One other writer on the website replied to her comments saying basically “if you can’t handle the fire, get out of the kitchen”. If you write and publish work, there is always going to be one person who does not think the world of your book. There will always be people who it just doesn’t work well for- if you cannot handle criticism, then you really shouldn’t go into creative fields. Who knows, maybe if the author hadn’t behaved so childishly upon my “honest review” (which she’d specifically asked for) maybe I would’ve given the book another shot in time, but now? It’s just tainted with a horrible memory of poor professionalism, and I will be hesitant to review more books for authors in the future because of this experience.]