The Woodlands Book Cover The Woodlands
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Young Adult
Clean Teen Publishing
2013
E-book and Print

SYNOPSIS: (from author's website): Rosa never thought she'd make it to sixteen...

When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Sixteen-year-old Rosa lives in one of the eight enclosed cities of The Woodlands. Where the lone survivors of a devastating race war have settled in the Russian wilderness because it’s the only scrap of land left habitable on the planet. In these circular cities, everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph.  He's blonde, fair-skinned, green-eyed, and the laid-back complete opposite of Rosa. She's never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger.

But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.

The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want. After all, they are considered superheroes by the general public. But not everyone sees them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: I picked up this book. I started reading it. I couldn’t put it down. I quickly finished it. I immediately (and desperately) looked into whether it was part of a series… because I wanted MORE!! It just…ended, and left me NEEDING to know what happens next! Thankfully, there are two more. I am a happy reviewer!

THE LOWDOWN: Set far into the future, The Woodlands tells us what life after a race war could be like. The people in charge go to great lengths to turn the population into “All Kind;” mixing all races together in a planned, calculated way to eradicate the different races, and just have one united ethnicity.  The Superiors go to great lengths to achieve this goal and they are some scary people with scary ideas.  They have come up with a plan to keep everyone productive, and in check.  They groom the children from a young age, and test them to determine what their position in life will be. Then at 18, they take them away from home, and put them all in a school to teach them all about their new life… and the training is harsh

I don’t want to give too much more of the story away, because A) This book is really, really good, and I want you to read it for yourself… plus I’m a no-spoilers kind of gal, and B) This review would be REALLY LONG. Suffice it to say crazy, messed-up hijinks ensue, and you are going to hope and pray that nothing like this ever, ever happens to us in real-life.  Ever.

Ms. Taylor is PHENOMENAL at giving us many rich, lush details, bringing both her characters and their surroundings to life.  Not once did I wonder or wish. She gave me everything I wanted to know, and built her world beautifully.  There was one part where I felt like I had to play a bit of catch-up, but it was brief, and I can see why she wrote it the way she did… the sudden and jarring switch-over made the scene that much more visceral and effective, and the confusion that comes along with it only makes it that much more of an intense ride.

The character development is done masterfully. Let’s be honest, sometimes YA characters (cough, GIRLS, cough,) can come off a little whiny and a lot needy.  I did not get that vibe from Rosa at all.  She does occasionally come off as angry and bitter, but with what she went through, who can really blame her.  Joseph is the boy that all of us dreamed of when we were young and imagining our perfect dream guy.  He’s a serious cutie, and super sweet to boot.  And he loves Rosa.  He’s just a great lead male. Love him! Sometimes, a lot more than Rosa (but I kind of get the impression that that’s exactly what the author’s intention was.)

It is YA.  It is dystopian.  If you don’t like these kinds of books, then this may not be your cup of tea.  But it is so well-written, so engaging, that I think you might enjoy this book despite your misgivings.  I most certainly did.  Totally worth it, and I can’t wait to read (and review) the next two!

Oh and before you go, The Woodlands is perma-free so don’t hold back. Download, download, download.

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    Thanks so much for the awesome review <3

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