by Sophie Jordan
To be published on January 7, 2014
by Harper Teen
Source: Thanks to HarperTeen for allowing me to read an e-ARC from Edelweiss.
Summary from Goodreads: When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone. Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.
My take: There were things I really liked about Uninvited. First, it had a super-cool premise -- the discovery of a murderer gene -- that gave me a lot to think about on issues of nature vs. nurture, free will, and the effects of prejudice and being socially stigmatized.
I also liked the fact that the book shows us what Davy's life was like before her test results -- she's a carefree high school student, a talented musician with loving parents and an adoring boyfriend -- and her life slowly unravels in the wake of her discovery that she tested positive for HTS (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome.) That part of the story was gripping, and Davy is very sympathetic.
But after that, the plot sort of stalled out for me. Davy hits what seems to be a low point, and I was waiting for her to fight her way back, but that didn't really happen. Instead -- highlight for mild plot spoiler -- as a result of her musical ability, Davy along with a group of other teens, is hand-picked for "special training" in New Mexico instead of being sent to a detention camp. I was expecting that in this training, Davy's musical ability would come into play. But no, they want the kids to train as fighters. Her musical talent never has much to do with anything, and the talents the other kids have include … speaking Spanish. Because, you know, no one in New Mexico knows how to speak Spanish. This all made no sense to me.
At times, I felt that the book suffered from IBS -- implausible book syndrome. You know-- when a book makes sense while you are reading it and then a friend asks you about it, and you can't explain the book and make it sound logical? That's how I began to feel about Uninvited. I enjoyed it well enough while I was reading it, but upon further reflection there were many things that didn't hold together for me.
The book is set in 2021, but the response to the HTS makes it feel like society has gone low-tech: all the people who tested positive are rounded up and isolated. I kept waiting for some creepy futuristic responses -- drug implants, surveillance, forced sterilization or medical experimentation -- but it often felt like the book took place during the Black Plague in the 1300s. The book's genetics terminology also confused me. Davy was repeatedly called a "carrier," and I thought that term should have only applied to her parents, who were unwitting recessive carriers of the HTS gene.
Some of Davy's actions also made no sense to me. She's a sheltered, wealthy suburban girl, so I liked the fact that she started out trusting and naive. But, as the book's summary indicates, Davy's boyfriend (and all her friends) dump her when he finds out she tested positive for HTS, and I expected that this would have made her a little less trusting of people in general and guys in particular. Nope -- she latches right onto a new guy, someone she knows next to nothing about. In addition to her HTS, Davy also clearly has a bad case of CGS -- clingy girl syndrome.
In sum, Uninvited did have some gripping moments, but I wished that the book had delved more into the interesting issues raised by the premise instead of turning to the predictable sheltered girl/tattooed boy romance I've seen a lot lately and a training sequence that seemed mainly to be a set-up for a subsequent book. If you're a reader who is a stickler for detail and logic, this may not be the book for you. But the book did have its high points for me, so if the premise appeals to you, give it a try and see what you think!