Oh my word, this ended up being one big disappointment. At first I thought for sure I had another winner, and was planning on giving it five stars, but then I got to the second half of the book and almost rage quit. I'll be discussing the plot in depth (though I wouldn't consider it too spoilerish), and any spoiler tags will true spoilers, so don't open the tags if you don't want to know what they say.
The first part
The book opens with our protagonist as an inmate in prison, and one thing that I can't get enough of, is some hard-as-nails women. I just love those kinds of characters. I want to be them, and if I can't be them, I want them to be my best friend. Jenna impressed me from the first page and it just kept getting better. One of the first lines: "I curl my lip into a snarl, half tempted to go over there and introduce him to my fists." And this one: "Hopefully he's got a good view of the tattoo on the back of my neck, the one I did myself last year using ink from a pen I found in the laundry and a shard of metal, telling him and anyone else who cares to read it to FUCK OFF."
Give me moar!!! I caught my face moving into that impressed grin that I have when I come across a chick like that, and I'm telling you, I was excited to see what happened next.
The story is about our girl's journey from hard inmate, to...pudding soft girl in love? Yeah. But I'll get to that in the second half of this review. Back to the girl that I couldn't get enough of! She ends up being broken out of prison by the prison's doctor, and though she has no idea why, she ends up--actually, she doesn't end up finding out why until nearly the end. But her annoyance with that was perfectly matched to my own, so I applaud the author for putting that in there.
Jenna goes through so much that I really felt bad for her for most of the book, but she doesn't wallow and complain, nope! She's gets pissed off!! When she finds out that her memories have been tampered with I was expecting her to have a bit of a breakdown, but no, she was livid. Not only that, but she was all about vengeance, and that's something I like in my main characters. The dark tones of this book were just superb! Everything was fabulously done.
Until she met a boy.
The second part
Now it all goes very wrong for me. After seeing Jenna be such a badass for so long, seeing her become so...obsessed...with Max really pissed me off. I can understand her having some feelings for a boy since she is still a teenager, but it just didn't mesh with the character I'd been reading about. She meets him after he tries to mug her, and then he goes through withdrawals in her flat. He's wanted by ACID too, and is the son of the prison doctor who broke her out of prison, and somehow she thinks that she owes him. Mind you, she's basically in witness protection, and the charade she's trying really hard to maintain is getting all kinds of jacked up, but no matter, he's got pretty eyes and a nice smile. There's this horrible woman in her apartment building that she knows will alert ACID if anything seems suspicious, and guess what happens? Yep. She does just that and then Jenna and Max make a run for it.
As they're running from the agents, they somehow find this underground hiding spot for other people who are bucking the laws set down by the evil ACID regime. ACID really was a good evil, just to be clear, and I can't even imagine what living in a world like that would be like. If some nosy person wanted to fucking spy on me daily I'd likely lose my mind. Mind your own business! Anyway, they're suddenly surrounded by these other people, and Jenna decided that they'd pretend to be a couple. Since the other people seemed to be all couples. Yeah. I can get past that though I suppose. Max is really sick though, and they end up staying there for several days while he recovers from his fever, and during this time I guess they fall in love. There's not much to go on here, other than that they're both on the run, and they're both in close confines together, but Max doesn't even know who she is really, and Jenna makes no move to enlighten him and try to make him understand what all happened to her. ACID put it out that she was the one responsible for his dad dying, but it wasn't her, it was the agents on the roof.
The haven turns out to be not such a safe place after all when they learn the leader is actually a crazy man who amounts to a domestic terrorist. The, six?, other people there apparently frighten Jenna so much that she makes no attempt to break free. Our badass girl who is more than capable of holding her own as the only female in a high security prison, is intimidated by a few teenagers. Max in turn seems to be incapable of really defending himself, aside from being ill of course, because not one time does he attempt to break free either. I get that the leader was a better fighter than Jenna, but there's two of them, and all they had to do was disable the fragile looking girl, and get the gun back, and then they could have left. But whatever.
As they get roped into this terrorist plot, they manage to run for it, and try to let ACID know that there's a bunch of bad about to happen. What actually happens though is that Jenna gets herself sent back to prison!!! And Max finds out who she is and declares his hatred for her. That doesn't matter to Jenna though because, no shit, (this is a memory of him that tries to surface later) "I can't make out his face but I feel an inexplicable pull towards him, a rush of intense love mixed with sadness and guilt." The only thing she thinks about after her return to prison is Max, and how he must be feeling/holding up/thinking/being treated.
Then, our brilliant girl is given a 'get out of jail free' pass, and after she's once again rescued, she decides to fuck up years worth of planning so she can go save poor Max from prison. I swear this whole fucking line of bullshit made me so pissed that I was thisclose to quitting. Gone is the girl that I was totally loving, and in her place was this obsessive little BRAT who didn't care about anything but her love and her revenge. Never mind the FACT that if the general saw her he would recognize her on the spot, NO, she must save Max!! SHE MUST! She's also told how she is to be a legit ACID officer, but fuck that, there's suffering people in this prison! She had no idea!! Not like she fucking spent two years in a prison herself, NO! She ignores all the orders and helps herself into cells to give food, water, and just fucking companionship to a prisoner, and some-fucking-how she's never caught. Even though the place is supposed to be under video surveillance like no other, NO, IT DOESN'T MATTER! SHE MUST HELP THIS GIRL!
The ending Then the goddamn general shows up, and the first night he's there she punches the guard outside his door, and stuffs him in the bathroom, just fucking HOPING he wouldn't come to before she was done with her plan. Then she goes into the general's room and wakes him up, cuffs him to a chair, and makes him confess that she didn't kill her parents, but rather it was ACID. He does so, but tells her that the whole jail is about to be blown up...because he's always known about the resistance, and HAHA the jokes on you Jenna. So she fucking leaves him, and goes to tell the others, because nobody else in the world but Jenna would have been able to find this out, and when they start evacuation they discover that the big bad general has, GASP, escaped! Oh, that's right, because she didn't fucking restrain that fucking guard! No shit Sherlock!!! And then we're led on a merry chase where the general takes on a cartoonish persona with his life's mission being to END JENNA STRONG, and blah blah, he's caught. Crisis averted. All very fucking neat, and unbelievable. I was so angry.
But what I thought was a real kicker was in the end there's a news clipping of how ACID was found guilty of a plethora of human rights violations, but and I fucking quote, "Perhaps the biggest shock of all was the evidence that proved Jenna Strong was indeed innocent, and that her parents were in fact killed by ACID on the orders of General Harvey." Tell me how in the FUCK that's going to be the biggest shock when this massive corrupt organization, that is truly evil, is finally toppled for massive human rights atrocities! Who fucking cares that Jenna went through that in the big picture!!!!!!!!!!! She was not the only one who suffered under ACID's regime! @#$#$^^^&*%^#@$@!#$#$^%^*^&* RAAAAAGE!!!!!!
JUST FUCKING UGH. I'm done. This review is out of control long, and I'm just fucking done. Oh, but real quick. This bugs me so much. When telling military time, use numbers, NEVER letters. It's NEVER OH-whatever time, it's ALWAYS zero-whatever time. It's not oh-eight hundred, it's zero eight hundred, or just zero-eight. I fucking hate that. Unless it's different for the British, and then disregard.