Surrender by Elana JohnsonTitle: Surrender
Author: Elana Johnson
Pages: 469 (hardcover)
Rating: 3.7/5

The second book in the series by Elana Johnson I began reviewing on Tuesday, Surrender, was much better than I was expecting it to be at the end of my last post.

At first I wasn’t thrilled with the two-point perspective, nor the narrators’ shortcoming of not being Vi, the main character of the first book, Possession. After 469 pages, I’ve come around to the more innocent and less strong stubborn voices of Raine and Gunner, main characters and narrators of Surrender.

Raine, seventeen year old daughter of Van Hightower, Director of Freedom (remember that foreshadowing?), is a leader of the Insiders, a resistance hoping to gather enough government contacts to bring down the regime of Thinkers and Directors and return the world to a place where everyone has the power to make their own decisions and have their own opinions. Gunner is the golden guy of Freedom, hoverboarding star, highly talented, all that stuff. The story begins with Raine trying to get Gunner to join the Insiders, for obvious (talent-related) reasons and maybe some personal ones as well.

As daughter of the Director, Raine has a lot of responsibilities. For one, she must keep track of and chart her ditzy flatmate’s nightmares, and send a report off to Assistant Director Thane whenever they happen. And Vi has nightmares every night. She also has to keep up with her heavy load of work for the Insiders, as she’s a top recruiter and also one of the most influential contacts they have. There’s one more mandated activity, but Raine doesn’t like to talk about that. Her special talent isn’t one she enjoys using.

Gunner lives with his mom, though he probably should be living in student housing. Everyone else does, at least. He’s a pretty normal dude – talented, sure, but nothing super special. His favorite activities are snacking and flying, both of which he manages to eek out of the government in large enough quantities to keep himself pretty content with life. Until one day, on the way to get his snack, his mom isn’t quick enough to close the safe.

In a world where the only currency is obedience and the only rewards unimportant, Gunn and Raine try to make sense of the oddities around them – Vi, Zenn, Thane, and the new arrival, Jag.

Elana Johnson kicked her ‘yeah’ and ‘because’ habit, but replaced them with + and =, which are actually okay. In the two perspectives, only Gunner really uses them, but since he narrates half the book, there are a lot of non-letter signs on the pages for a literary work. Again, something I’m willing to overlook because I enjoyed the story and the rest of the prose, but worth noting if that kind of stuff will bug you.

I really enjoyed Surrender, and though I’m posting this on Friday, it’s actually Wednesday as I write this. (Meaning I went out and got the book, read it, and reviewed it within 48 hours of finishing Possession.) I’m looking forward to Abandon (is three reviews from the same series in a row too much? I hope not), which will probably blow me away, because these books actually seem to be getting better as I progress in the series, which is not something I can say about every dystopian series. I’m looking at you, Matched trilogy. (Also, I’m hearing that the term is no longer YA dystopian, but I’m not buying it.)

Another thing I’ve been meaning to bring up since starting Possession is the god modding aspect of the talents. If you’ve had experience roleplaying or have learned about the not-so-official literary aspects they don’t really teach in school, you’ll know god modding is giving your characters so many abilities that they don’t have any chance of failure. This could be a huge problem for the Possession books, but Elana Johnson seems to be doing okay so far. There have been a couple times where I either went ‘oh, that’s handy,’ or ‘why can’t they just use their superpower?’, but overall I’ve bought the use or not use of each character’s power. I’m a little worried that things will take a turn for the god moddey in the next book after [SPOILER] Vi was all “I can do everything” and bust out the complete mind reading abilities, but I hope the esteemed Mrs. Johnson will keep everything realistic [NO MORE SPOILER]. Also, you’ve had ample time to go find Possession, so I expect you’re reading it or have already finished by now. (Not actually, read what you want. But seriously, you should read these books.)

My hopes for Abandon, go something like this:
-It is narrated by at least one of the points in the love triangle from Possession (most hopefully Jag, but Vi was great in the first book and I wouldn’t mind reading from Zenn’s point of view).
-It is at least 600 pages long (Looked it up, it’s not. 464.)
-There is no resurfacing of the yeah and because, even if Vi is narrating
-There is ZERO ‘it was all a dream/all government orchestrated’ plot work (glaring at Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, here)
-The ending is closed. No room for interpretation or continuation, everything’s been worked out (ahem, The Passage).

We’ll see how that works out. Review to come. Probably next Tuesday.

Au revoir,