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Hilary T. Smith
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Bryan Peterson

The Line (The Line, #1)

The Line (The Line, #1) - Teri Hall Unfortunately for me, The Line was a definite case of a premise I loved, and execution that I did not. Despite it’s recent glutting with offerings (some better than others), dystopia is still a genre I love. Because amid the lacklustre, the poorly conceived, and frankly absurd, every now and then I find a YA dystopian novel that completely blows me away.This book was not one of them. The Line takes some familiar aspects: a divided and reconstructed former US, war, heavy restrictions on citizens, and adds a sinister slant in the form of the invisible barrier that separates the Unified States from Away. Away is rumoured to be populated by the bizarre and superhuman victims of weapons used during the conflict. The Line ostensibly keeps these unacknowledged beings out, while locking citizens in. The story revolves largely around three female characters, each of a different generation, who live on The Property that backs onto the Line. Vivian and her daughter Rachel have sought the relative safety of isolation after the death of Vivian’s husband, while their employer Mrs Moore harbours secrets of her own. It was a concept that piqued my interested (*cough* along with the gorgeous cover), yet my initial enthusiasm waned fairly quickly. As with most readers, I have certain preferences when it comes to writing style. That’s not to say that I’m not open to new things, but I know generally what works for me. This didn’t. The writing is clinical and somewhat formal, keeping the reader distant. As a result, I simply could not engage with the characters at all. At the end of the novel, I still feel like I have no real idea who they are, what they’re like as people. Hall frequently tells us what emotions they are experiencing, but at no point did I actually feel this for myself. There was something rather methodical and detached about the manner of storytelling in this case. Also, to put it bluntly, not a lot actually happens in this book.In a nutshell: A girl crosses a forbidden line. Literally. This makes me think that the perhaps the purpose here was to build an incredible amount of tension and suspense through a deceptively slow-paced plot and a richly realised atmosphere of menace, keeping readers on their mental toes and unsure of what to expect. That’s all well and good, but there is a fine line between achieving this and.. not. To be completely honest, I spent a large portion of this book feeling vaguely bored and wishing something more would happen. Despite this, and without spoiling the ending, there is some hope that things may get more interesting in the sequel. I’m keen to see some of the elements that initially drew me to this book be further developed, and I hope this is the case in Away. Finally, my favourite thing about The Line? “Sheep-cats.” Is that not the coolest thing you’ve heard all day?Sheep-cats.