The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams
Published by MacMillan on 2014-03-04
Genres: Dystopian, General, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: ARC, NetGalley
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For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories. But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?Powerful and emotional, The Haven takes us inside a treacherous world in which nothing is as it seems. “Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea of what Carol Lynch Williams has done for early teen readers.” (Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Near to Baby)
Haven Hospital & Halls (est 2020) is a place where Terminals live, attend classes, and occasionally get called to go for procedures to fight against the Disease that makes them Terminal. Sometimes they come back missing limbs or organs, and sometimes they don’t come back at all. The Terminals are well cared for, but must follow strict rules (No touching! No fraternizing with the opposite sex!), and are sent to Isolation if they don’t fall into line. They also have to take a tonic every night that seems to help them sleep, ease anxiety, and makes them forget about anything bad that has happened. They know that they are kept apart from the “Whole” population, but they don’t know anything about what is outside the walls of Haven.
One of the Terminals, Shiloh, doesn’t seem to forget things the way the rest do, and she is also more observant. Her world is changed when Gideon, one of the forbidden males, starts showing an interest in her, and in starting a rebellion. It’s pretty obvious that something shady is going on at Haven Hospital, and we – along with Shiloh – slowly discover what it is.
The premise of this book was intriguing, but I didn’t feel like it delivered. I found the characters to be bland – even after Shiloh got wise to what was really going on, she didn’t become interesting or particularly sympathetic. Upon reading the big reveal, my first thought was “wasn’t there another book recently with this exact same theme?”. And yes, there was. I won’t spoil the plot by giving that away, and I haven’t read the other book so I cannot attest to exactly how similar it is (or which one was better). I also didn’t care for the ending. It wasn’t satisfying or surprising, and like the rest of the book didn’t make me feel much of anything at all.
The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams is the first book I have read by this author. Some of her previous books sound interesting and definitely have some heavy subject matter, and I intend to read at least one of them (mostly because it’s about polygamy, which I find strangely fascinating). However, as far as The Haven goes, for me, it was a forgettable book that didn’t leave an impression.