I am not lost…

August 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: THE INSTITUTE by Kayla Howarth

I’m fairly certain I picked this up as a freebie somewhere along the line, though I don’t remember where or when. (This happens to me a lot. It’s what I get for randomly downloading free books constantly.) Despite the market being super saturated with young adult dystopian stories, I’m still game to read most of them. I always walk in a bit dubious, since many of them all end up sounding alike, but I’m ever hopeful

The premise is nothing new: a virus wiped out huge chunks of the world’s population, and as a cure was found, there was an unexpected side effect: people begin being born with unusual powers. Fearing the possibility of violence from these people, now dubbed the Defectives, the government tried taking them out of the population. This send Defectives into hiding, vigilante justice rose, and the Institute was born. Supposedly a safe haven for Defective, popular belief says it’s little more than a prison built to lock Defectives away in and forget about them.

Allira Daniels has spent her whole life protecting her Defective younger brother, Shilah. After their mother disappeared, the family has either been moving or laying low constantly. If Shilah is discovered, he’ll be taken to the Institute and Allira and her father will be arrested (or worse) for knowingly harboring a Defective. But when two of Allira’s classmates are in a fiery car crash, she abandons lying low in order to help. However, the Instititue finds it odd that a seventeen year old girl can pull two young man from a mangled car, Defective or not. Now Allira and her family have to choose: stay or flee? Is the Institute coming for Allira?

Foolish love! Stupid choices! Betrayal! Kissing! Super powers! More betrayal! Post-apocalyptic confusing future history! Sounding familiar yet? there aren’t really any surprises in this book. Drew’s plot didn’t surprise me, Allira’s plot didn’t surprise me, the end of the book was inevitable and telegraphed clearly from the beginning. Allira makes all the necessary stupid 17 year old mistakes, Shilah is the classic little brother. any small moment of surprise is followed by a feeling of “oh, well of course that happened.”

This isn’t to say I didn’t like the book! For all its predictability, the characters are still fun to watch. Allira is a little less “special snowflake” in her demeanor than others in her genre, and I hope she keeps that through the series. Drew is…frustrating, but an intriguing contradiction. I have no clue what to make of Chad, but if Tate doesn’t become a recurring character I will be very disappointed. It’s the first in a series, though I’m not sure how many books there are, so it suffers from all the usual issues first books do. This is all setup. Just when I was really becoming invested in the story, it’s over. Overall, however, the book manages to stand on its own better than other first books I’ve read.

This is another book where I’m truly between star counts. It’s really a 3.5. I’m not comfortable with a solid 4 because I truly didn’t see anything remarkable, but 3 feels too low, since I’m still invested enough that I’ll likely try to pick up the next book. Make of that what you will.

Rating: *** (Worth a Look)

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