"Ever since she was created, Wren has lived in an idyllic garden with her friends. Wren's deity Dot ensures the trees are laden with fruit and the water in the lagoon is crystal clear. Wren and her friends have everything they could possibly need right there, in Dot's Paradise.
If only Wren could stop the strange, disturbing visions she's started having. Do these visions make her less worthy of Dot's love? And what does Blaze, the most beautiful and mysterious of Dot's creations, know about what's going on in Wren's head?
Wren is desperate to feel Dot's love, just like everyone else. But that's harder than ever when a creation she's never met before arrives in the garden. He claims to be from outside and brings with him words and ideas that make Wren's brain hurt.
Gradually Wren and Blaze uncover the truth: they're part of a clinical trial of an ominous drug called Grace.
And as she deals with this disturbing knowledge, Wren confronts a horrific secret from her past. Now she must decide whether to return to the comforting delusion of faith or fight for the right to face the very ugly truth."
NetGalley. Thanks for the copy.
State of Grace reminds me of many Dystopian books. I'm reminded of The Giver (by Lois Lowry), Divergent (by Veronica Roth), and Escape From Eden (by Elisa Nader). The book is mixed with the new and the old, spinning a tale of a seemingly happy (but is it real?) life of Wren and her friends.
I have to talk about the villain, because that is the most interesting part of the story despite the little details the book gives. So the villain is the corporation manufacturing the drug called Grace (which basically makes everyone high and forget about everything). It is a really intriguing drug and evil corporation. I also wish Hilary Badger expanded a bit more on the seemingly greedy villain who also has a mild god complex. Honestly, there is so much potential here, and I really wish the author provided more details.
Wren (named after a bird) is a girl who believes in Dot (a figure that is like God). She goes through a series of visions and strange dreams that changes her life. She learns and she realizes that her "We are very happy and we are family" community isn't that much of a paradise. (Read: A lot of drugs are involved, and things get very dangerous and suspenseful). When she meets an outsider named Dennis (no, there is not a romance here), things get complicated and her "faith" is questioned immensely. It is really cool to see all of this happen, and Badger pulls it off incredibly well.
The plot starts off slowing, giving the readers a seemingly beautiful world where everyone is happy and blissful. There is no war, no fighting, just love and love. But it all becomes darker and sinister when chaos explodes. There is violence, blood spilled, and more violence. The tale unravels slowly, which, I admit, annoys me very much. I couldn't get into the story at the beginning, but I start getting very interested (and invested) in the book when the plot thankfully starts picking up. Believe me, it is worth it, but the beginning is a bit slow and it needs a lot of work.
The ending is the opposite of the beginning. (Now, that sounds ironic.) The ending ends way too quickly, and I find myself rereading parts to understand it much better. I missed a lot of crucial details when I read the book, and I absolutely dislike how much I missed. (A bit slower, Ms. Badger!) Also, I find myself asking questions (and not in a good way).
Overall, State of Grace is a slowburning book that ends sooner than one would expect. There are some patches to be filled, but State of Grace has a lot of potential to be better. The world building could had been better, but it works actually, giving a wonderful illusion. Wren is an interesting character who struggles between reality and fiction.
Rating: Three out of Five