Expected publication: July 3, 2012 (Harper Collins)
Source: Borrowed from Anna @ Literary Exploration
Series or Stand-alone: Eve (2)
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Find the author online: Twitter | Website
Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America.
However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous.
But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?
Plot-wise, Anna Carey ramps up the stakes with Once, bringing Eve into the lair of the villainous King of the City of Sand, where she sees how much re-building is being done, and realizes how vastly different these people's lives are from the sheltered one she lived back at school, and from the hand-to-mouth existence the boys in the dug-out eked out while she stayed there. There is a disgusting opulence in the City of Sand compared to those on the fringes, on the run, and that's not all that Eve discovers. She also finds out the truly startling reason the King was so intent on drawing her to his city, and what plans he has for her, and has to struggle to come to terms with all of that - which is the last thing the maturing Eve wants to do. While she still made some questionable decisions in Once, Eve impressed me with the growth she has shown since she fled her school in the first book - but I think she still has a long way to go.
Mingled in with all the action and danger is a good dose of romance between Eve and Caleb, and even the possibility of one between Eve and one of the young, rising stars in the City of Sand, though it's clear where Eve's affections lie. Once further develops Eve and Caleb's relationship in a way that is tender and genuine, and is possibly the biggest draw to the series for me. (I won't lie, I've swooned over Caleb a time or five.) My biggest complaint there is that Once ends up falling back on a few devices from the first book, and it was frustrating for me that I felt like when it came to Eve and Caleb, they were playing out the same roles they had in Eve. I kept waiting for more, for that moment that would set Once apart from other books, and ultimately, I never found it in the pages of this book - but after the way Once ended, I do have high hopes for the third and final book. There is a huge cliffhanger which is sort of cruel in a way, when you put it in the context of how long we'll have to wait for that next book.
It's hard for me to review Once, because I didn't hate it. I liked Once. But I didn't love it. I'm still not truly connected emotionally with Eve - instead of my heart pounding in fear for her, I feel detached as I read about her, and because of that, I'm not as "into" the books as I wish I was. The writing is fresh and great as usual, but there's just that spark missing to really draw me in. If you, like me, saw a lot of potential in Eve, I would recommend reading Once, as it has definitely set up the final book to be fairly epic, but if you also had trouble connecting with Eve, or if you didn't truly LOVE the first book, I would caution you to go into this one warily, else it might disappoint. Once fell a bit flat for me - it just didn't pack the emotional punch I was wanting, or sweep me off my feet, though that's not to say it isn't still a good book, and I hope readers will enjoy it.
Have you read EVE or ONCE? If so, what did you think? What would you like to see in the RISE, the third and final novel in the trilogy?
Book Trailer - Eve