Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Review of Teri Hall's The Line

The Line is a young adult dystopian novel set in the futuristic nation of The Unified States. Rachel lives with her mom Vivian on “The Property.” A piece of land owned by Elizabeth Moore that borders the infamous “Line”, an invisible and impassable defense border built by the government. The people that live on the other side serve as boogie man figures for children in the US and the media circulates stories of “the others” committing crimes.

While Teri Hall managed to create an imaginative world and a fun book, there are flaws that ruined the experience for me. The first was the introduction and naming of Hall’s world. We learn about The Unified States right along with Rachel as she is learning it from her mother. The information she is learning seems out of place, something she should already know. This introduction to an otherwise extremely interesting world is a cop-out by Hall. Also, naming the country “The Unified States” is a clear attempt to draw the reader to the similarities between the future she painted for her world and the realities of ours. Instead of driving this important point home, it cheapened it, taking out a lot of room for reader interpretation.

Another issue I had was with Hall’s characters. Rachel, the most dynamic of the characters, is a young girl whose motivations are not usually clear. Her transformation is shallow and a result of new information rather than any internal growth. Rachel’s mother Vivian is even worse. It is clear she is hiding something for the entire first half of the novel and the reader is left with little doubt as to what the secret is. Elizabeth Moore is my least favorite character. Hall tries to give her an air of mystery by making her an aloof old woman, but leaves the reader with a cliche. I was not surprised to find that Ms. Moore really has a big heart.

I can, however, forgive those shortcomings if it wasn’t for one thing. The ending. I know that this book is supposed to be part of a series, but come on. You can’t make a series of novels by taking one long novel and cutting it into parts. There wasn’t a story in this book; Hall left me hanging like a two-part television show where the next episode doesn’t come out for a year. I am a firm believer that each novel needs to stand on its own. There needs to be an overreaching plot that spans the entire series, but each book needs to have enough plot so that I can pick it up, out of order, and enjoy it. Jeff is angry!

Anger aside, the book was entertaining. I tore through it like a tornado through a trailer park and became absorbed in the world Hall created. The Line won’t ever make one of my top ten lists, but it is worth reading and I will be buying the second one.

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A twenty-two-year-old University student, Jeff is the founder and coeditor of The Debut Authors Blog. He is an aspiring author and a self-avowed bibliophile. Also, he is not above shameless self-promotion and talking in the third-person.

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