Date Published: July 28th 2015
Publisher: Lotus Books / Book Buzz
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What if everyone just stopped caring? What sort of world would we create for future generations?
Letha and Nathan were best friends just as were their mothers before them. Soon, however, two dictators overthrow the city, take the children captive, kill the opposing parents and then brainwash, train, and sculpt these children into soldiers. At first, Letha rejects the new life she leads, staying strong only to protect those younger than her. She is then given the ultimate task: kill Nathan; If she does not, everyone, including herself, will die.
In a world where no one cares, Letha struggles against herself to do the right thing. Ultimately, she has to make a choice, save herself or drown in the codependency of one young boy who has become brainwashed and hardened into the dictator’s web. No matter what choice she makes, she will have to lose someone that she loves.
I was provided a copy of this book via Netgalley and the Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Inside the Wall is about a girl named Letha who is struggling to come to terms with her role in her now overthrown city. The city is divided into three parts: Tsunamis, Rats and Neutrals. Letha is a Tsunami and the Rats are their enemies. She gets a mission by the Tsunami’s leader, Officer Lindsey, to kill a boy named Nathan who is part of the Rats and just so happened to be Letha’s best friend and boyfriend before the war happened. Letha reluctantly agrees to do the mission and takes a team of misfits with her (Angel, Spur, Bullet and Freckles – everyone has nicknames now and Letha’s is Heart) who are the closest thing she has to friends. Letha has other plans though and killing Nathan isn’t at the top of her list.
I really enjoyed the concept behind Inside the Wall. It reminds me of the notion that people will do unquestionable things when told by someone in a position of power. I instantly thought of the Milgram experiment that was conducted, were people would give supposed lethal electric shocks to another person because Someone In Charge told them to do it. The world that Letha lives in is a world that has been tortured and conditioned into not caring. Everyone’s instinct is to survive. It is brutal. And I mean that. This book has a lot of violence and is quite dark and gritty. It is definitely an intense read and will make you think and question what would happen if our own world became this way.
Whilst I did enjoy the concept of this book I feel like it could have been executed a little better. I was quite confuse about the Walled City that Letha lived in and why and how the war started. I would have liked to learn more about the Neutrals too. We got a few flashbacks to how the city was Before, but it didn’t explain too much. The flashbacks mostly focused on Letha’s relationship with Nathan, which I guess was so we would feel the angst that Letha had to kill someone she once loved. Honestly though I didn’t really connect with the relationship. Letha and Nathan were 11 when they started going out. Call me old fashioned, but that made me kind of uncomfortable. I know it’s a common thing these days and I am not trying to judge anyone who may have been dating/kissing boys at that age. Maybe it’s because I have a hoard of younger siblings and I’m extremely protective. It was just weird hearing 11 years old proclaim their love for each other. I think I would have connected more with Leda and Nathan if they had have just been portrayed as best friends. This was more of a personal preference though and it may not bother others. I also didn’t really care for Letha’s other sort of love interest, Spud, he was a bit of an asshole who was always touching and kissing Letha without even asking.
I didn’t connect with the love interests of Letha, but I loved her relationship with Angel and it’s a huge part of the reason I gave this 4 stars. Angel is a younger girl who is also a brutal killer and her and Letha have a sister-like relationship. If you have siblings you’ll know what I mean when I say you will either kill them or kill for them and that’s the vibe I got from Letha and Angel. I was really attached to Angel and worried about her the whole book. She was dangerous, but she also had moments were you realised just how young she was. Letha did everything she could to keep her (and the rest of her team) safe and this also played a part in my 4 star rating.
The ending was a cliffhanger of sorts and bit rushed and the pacing felt a bit off too. It was fast, which I liked, but then sometimes it felt too fast? I know this is only a novella so it couldn’t cram a ton of world building in, but I feel like we were told more than we were shown so I felt a bit disconnected from the awful events that were happening.
My initial reaction after reading this was again a 3.5 and I spent a lot of time debating whether to go up or down. Eventually I went up because I thought the idea behind the story was really interesting. A. Lotus said in an introduction that she originally wrote this particular book in high school so it could explain some of the issues I had with it. I really, really hate critiquing writing because I feel like I have no right and it’s why my reviews focus on the feelings I have. I wanted to talk about the things I had problems with though because I want this to be an honest review. I also went up to 4 stars because this book had something in it that I rarely ever see in YA Dystopians. THERE WAS PERIOD TALK. I know it might seem like a bit of an overreaction to go up a whole star, but it just made it feel so much more realistic? Another reason I gave this four stars was because A. Lotus created a playlist to go along with the book which you can listen to here. I’m a sucker for music, okay?
Also, not sure if it was an error on my end but my Netgalley Kindle copy was full of formatting errors. There was incorrect spacing throughout the entire book and it drove me crazy. I have no idea if these are in the Amazon version or if like I said it was an error on my end, but I just wanted to make people aware of it in case.
If you’re after a quick and dark, almost horror like dstyopian read then check this out! I’m going to read the rest of the series once I have time.