Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate. Goodreads.Review - If Living Dead Girl rocked people's perceptions of Elizabeth Scott's writing then Grace will blow them up. It is different from anything else that she has published and demonstrates amazing growth and diversity as an author. Tense and political. Terse and exact. Scott sketches an image of a world where you are what you are told you will be. A life without choices and many sacrifices. A life without colour, without beauty, without connection and it is exceedingly grim. A minimal piece of writing, the reader's mind is constantly whirling as it processes new information and the actions of our protagonist and Kerr.
YA can often be put into two categories - amazing premise and expertly realised. Sometimes there is crossover but not usually. Grace walks that line like an acrobat as it quietly, subtlety, makes its way forward navigating fear, determination and ultimately hope. Grace presents a reality where society is fractured into those that blindly (and fearfully) follow Keran Berj and those that oppose his rule, those of The Hills. A world of tyranny, violence, suppression and fear where being an Angel is a great honour. An honour that Grace can't see through entirely so she runs. And this is where the story begins.
Grace isn't flashy. It is not glitzy or dimple cheeked. It is deliciously barren. A small novel, it's short chapters and at times even shorter sentences convey the trapped quality of this world and the tethers that bind. It is novels like Grace that challenge the notion that YA is fluff. There's no fluff here, only heat and oppression. Sparse, resolute and political, Scott has explored the notion of power, identity and sacrifice in a way that leaves you quiet. It creeps up on you. It is the study of a girl who straddles two world and is wanted by neither. In choosing herself, she chooses to fight for her freedom.
A beautifully realised introspective novel about life, death and the choices we make in between. The insular first person narration and few characters focus the story intently on the train ride and the steps that brought Grace and Kerr to that point. Revelations unwind like a slight breeze and wash over you as they may (or may not) get closer to escape. A wonderful and vastly different addition to the Elizabeth Scott collection and young adult literature.
A thought provoking exploration of the power of one.
Published: September 16 2010
Format: ARC, 208 pages