It’s not always true what they say about not judging books by covers. A book with a strong, evocative cover tells me that someone believed in it enough to put in the sweat to create a design that works. I read books with bad covers sometimes, but only because it suffices as my good deed of the week. The Line by Teri Hall has a cover that says, “You know you want to read me.” And I did.
Rachel and her mother Victoria live on The Property where her mother works as a Domestic. They’re poor, but lucky as the situation saves them from the Labor Pool. In between lessons with her mother and basic chores, Rachel kills her time by scouring the internets for information on Away.
What makes The Property so special, besides its removed location, is that it sits on the edge of the Line. Away is always within site just on the other side, especially from the greenhouse where Ms. Moore tends her orchids. The stories Rachel finds are what you would expect from online research. Rumors have it that mutant people and strange creatures inhabit the place.
All anybody knows for sure about Away is that anyone who was unfortunate enough to be on the wrong side when the Line was activated is out of luck. No medicine. No technology. No government. The latter doesn’t seem so bad once Rachel goes into town with her mother and witnesses a brutal identification.
Everything changes when Rachel finds a hidden message in a bottle. Someone on the other side needs help and even after everything she’s seen and lost, including her father, she’s not afraid to help. She can’t do it by herself, but Victoria will do everything in her power to keep her daughter safe. Raising a daughter to be suspicious of government and always ask questions may backfire as she realizes her daughter has more courage than is good for her. On their side of the Line at least.
This is a smaller story than I expected in a time when a plague of dystopian fiction is upon us. Most of them stretch themselves too thin trying to be the next Hunger Games, building an entire society on the brink of collapse as its people finally fight back. It’s a formula that makes me sleepy. In focusing the entire plot on a girl trying to do something so simple as to cross a physical line Teri Hall has skirted the formula. Yay!
Now for the Nay: Very little actually happens so prepare for a slow story with a predictable climax. Part of the reason why it feels slow is the writing. There’s a lot of redundancy and so much exposition that it calls attention to itself. The sequel, Away, promises more excitement.
Check out this review on Not Enough Book Shelves for a more enthusiastic review.