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I Belong

Review: Surrender by Elana Johnson

Title: Surrender

Author: Elana Johnson

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: Possession (Book 2)

Publication Date: June 5, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages

ISBN-10: 1442445688 (Simon Pulse)

ISBN-13: 978-1442445680 (Simon Pulse)

Reviewed by: Kayla


Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.

Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….

Quick and Dirty: A girl and guy join the rebels to try to overthrow Freedom. If you didn’t like Possession (*me*) you should definitely give Surrender a chance; it’s unbelievably better!!

Opening Sentence: Someone is always watching.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

So I was a tad leery of reading Surrender after reading Possession. The plot was great, I admit, but the writing overall was hard to follow and the characters bugged me (namely, Jag). But once I started Surrender, I could not put it down! This book is from the points of views of Gunner Jameson — a teen who has voice control and has lived in Freedom his whole life — and Raine Hightower — the daughter of the Director of Freedom with a very special (and very taxing) power. Gunner has been crushing on the Director’s daughter for a really long time. Raine has been watching Gunner ever since that fateful night eight months ago when Violet Schoenfeld became her roommate. Raine goes behind her father’s back and is a member of the Insiders — a group of Freedom citizens that want to start a rebellion against Thinkers (leaders of the society with special powers). This is a really creative world where you have the choices of being brainwashed into a Thinker or be a Thinker and control. Intrigue and romance collide in this fast-paced novel.

So let me just put this out there: this is not like Possession (writing wise). Everything was understandable and was thoroughly explained (and not just randomly added for convenience). I can tell that Johnson is growing as a writer, not only in her writing but also in her characters. Raine and Gunner are completely opposite characters from Vi and Jag. Raine has always been a good girl and only rebels in small ways (unlike Vi who does whatever whenever). Gunner is reserved, but still has emotions (unlike hormonal Jag). Their relationship had reasons behind the love and slowly grew over time. It was great to see more of their complex personalities before they admit they like each other.

So for all those Possession fans, yes, there is still Vi and Jag and Zenn. Zenn actually plays a key role in this book. I found myself actually liking him more (and rooting for Zenn over Jag), seeing his raw love for Vi. We get an inside look on Zenn’s life as an Informer — how he plays both sides and his internal conflict with Jag. Jag — although a major character in Possession and is still talked about throughout Surrender, Jag doesn’t appear until the end of the book. Vi is constantly in the background, but comes forward as the story progresses.

Although the writing is soooo much better than Possession, there are a few transitions that are a bit murky. (WARNING: SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T READ POSSESSION!!) Vi’s unbrainwashing, for example, is never said outright, making the story a bit confusing (one minute she remembers, the next she’s ignorant without any explanations or nudges to the right inference). But other than that, the twists and overall plotting are smooth and realistic (i.e. character’s reactions or reasons behind reactions).

One of the major plot twists was building from the first book. I loved how it’s been building to this twist, but I thought it could’ve been a little more hidden or read between the lines. I was expecting it, but was still questioning my thoughts until it actually happened.

The beginning was slow-ish, but once you get to page 100 or so, it rushes off, leaving you hanging on for dear life (or hanging on each page). Once the story reaches the scene below, it’s the turning point from who-are-these-characters to I-ABSOLUTELY-LOVE-THEM! Just a warning before you go buy the book: Johnson knows how to make a cliffhanger. You think Percy Jackson or Divergent was bad? Wait till you read this.

Notable Scene:

In Vi’s drain, I smelled oily smoke and wet cement. I tasted the triumph as it mixed with fury.

I saw what would happen if Vi gained her freedom. I saw Thane weeping into his hands. I saw the sky flashing with fire, the wind howling with my father’s screams.

I saw Freedom fall.

And standing next to Vi, watching it all from a hoverboard, I saw myself.

Someone flew up behind me, and I turned at his touch. He kissed me, and we surveyed the chaos with our fingers entwined.

“About time, Gunner,” Vi said, her voice a mix of sarcasm and power.

That’s when I started screaming, both in the vision and in real life.

Later, I got an official e-comm with Thane’s name decorating the letterhead. I could never tell anyone about what I’d seen during the drain. Not Vi. Not Cannon.

And especially not my dad.

That was eight months ago, and I’d been watching Gunner Jameson ever since.

Possession Series:

1. Possession

1.5. Regret

2. Surrender

FTC Advisory: Simon Pulse provided me with a copy of Surrender. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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