So let me warn you that there might be excessive squealing in this review. I totally splurged and spoiled myself by buying one of the 350 Limited Edition copies of this book from Malaprops Bookstore, spent an arm and a leg on the shipping, and prayed that this book was going to be just as good as Revis's ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series.
And guess what? It totally was.
**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
The future world is at peace.
Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to
enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her
mother—to help others relive their happy memories.
But not all is at it seems.
starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of
who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel
group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of
traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in
love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only
mean one thing…
Someone’s altered her memory.
gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing
rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was
happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot
trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.
So who can she trust? (source:goodreads)
Narrative-This book is told from the first person POV of Ella Shepherd, who is ultimately a worried girl who tries to appear stress-free, a quality that comes out in the narrative style. References to her parents pop up often, and I really liked how tied to her family it made her seem, just through how she prioritizes them in her mind.
As with the AtU series, most of the chapters are short and quick, and done artfully well. If they're long, it's not noticeable. Nothing dragged on so long that I found myself counting how many pages I had until the end of a chapter or some kind of break; there was a rhythm where low-stress moments were short and not prolonged, and the high-stressed took up a little more time in order for me (the reader) to fully take in every detail that was presented to me.
That last part is what intrigued me. There's a particular moment when Ella is hiding underwater, and everything just...slows down. And it's troubling. And it was ultimately perfect because I felt like I couldn't breathe, which, in the moment, wasn't a good thing.
Plot-This is exactly where I'm going to start squealing, okay?
I'm not going to lie. My hesitation in splurging on this book stemmed from the fact that I expected the expected. Literally. From the pitch, I thought: "Girl becomes spy for government. Girl infiltrates rebellion. Girl falls in love with leader after finding out she loved him once already but her memory's been altered. Girl gets revenge. Rebellion wins."
That is so not what happened.
Revis has a talent for making me expect one thing to happen, and then when I turn the page I just kind of sit there in shock and say, "Wait, what?" Then I turn back to see if I missed something, but nope. I read it right. She's a master at pushing the plot along one road, and at the last second veering off sharply until the tires find a bumpy side road nobody even knew existed and then taking off at a hundred miles an hour.
THE BODY ELECTRIC is simply...different. And I loved it for the reason that it defied all of my expectations. I can admit that I realized what was happening about 100 pages before the truth came out, but even though I called it, I was still shocked. The explosion of emotion was phenomenal.
Basic summary: Ella lives and works with her mother at the day spa where they help people relive happy memories; Ella finds out she can actually enter somebody's mind through their dreams, and she's enlisted as a spy for the government. After a few strange incidents, she's led to the rebellion (won't say anything more there), and finds out that her memories of the fabulous Jack Tyler are gone. Or is it that his memories are entirely made up? Then there's exploding androids and clones and android clones and there comes a moment where reader and Ella alike are convinced that she's simply crazy.
This book is definitely a roller coaster ride.
There is a downside (*sighs*). Personally, there was one aspect of the plot that I figured out from the very beginning, before anything bad happened. I'm not saying that this was a mystery of who the villain was (sorry, guys, no Clue), but from the very beginning I knew which character was pulling the strings, so when it came out, it came out flat. It was too obvious.
Also, and this is a point I'm not really counting, I think there are some loose ends that never got tied up. I'm going to re-read the book to be sure, but it felt like the main story line (figuring out what's up with Ella and the rebellion) was tied up extremely nicely (I loved how open the ending was, too), but it was the smaller things. Like, I'm still trying to figure out what happened on the moon when something exploded (sorry guys, I'm being vague for a reason: read the book yourself because it's awesome, anyways).
Like I said, that point could just be that I personally missed something. I'll keep ya'll updated?
Overall, the plot was fabulous, complete with an overarching plot-line concerning the fate of the world, and a very emotionally-charged trip that the main character was forced to take in order to come to terms not only with who she was, but what. Worth a read by basically everybody.
Characters-Of course, I'm starting with Ella.
I liked Ella. A lot. She's one of those protagonists who doesn't just dive into the adventure and say, "oh my gosh, you have memories of me but I don't have memories of you? Something must be wrong with me." (I totally made that situation up, by the way). I mean, okay, no character is like that, but there are plenty who seem to take what happens to them in too much stride. Ella didn't; she clung tightly to her life, or, at least, what she thought was her life. She recognized the familiar and the strange, and sought to figure out what, exactly, was different and how she could learn to tell them apart. She's smart and can (sort of) think on her feet, and when she finds herself in unfamiliar territory she relies on those who know their footing better until she starts to figure out her own pattern to how to work the world around her. She also had an extremely fierce loyalty to her family and her friends, which was something that I absolutely adored. Even when it looked like her own deceased father was a bad guy, she never completely thought the worse of him (even though it did, naturally, cross her mind).
And, now, who is Jack Tyler? I mentioned him briefly in the Plot section, and he's the ruggedly handsome and slightly (adorably) arrogant about it (admittedly, whenever these moments of playful arrogance came about, it felt really out of character). What's more, he's funny. His quick little quips were were witty while not over-the-top, and what's more he was totally respectful towards Ella when he realized that she didn't know him, which was a total plus. He didn't constantly bombard her with, "do you remember" questions, trying to test the waters; once it was clear to him that Ella couldn't remember ever meeting him, he accepted it (no matter how painful), and basically allowed them to start from the beginning. Plus, he's a bit on the mysterious side for most of the book, which was fantastic; nothing about him was obvious, and by the end of it I was aghast with how easily some secrets were kept hidden for so long.
With the exception of the one character I told ya'll about above (the obvious villain), I thought most of the characters were extremely well rounded, which is awesome considering half of them-
Sorry, I'm stopping before I completely ruin everything.
Ultimately, this book was epic. And fantastic. And completely inspiring. This is actually no joke: THE BODY ELECTRIC inhabits the same genre and deals with the same issues as some of my own writing, so after finishing it I was totally inspired to open up my WIP and start tapping away at it. This book was extremely well done, and I highly recommend it to everybody.
Final Answer: 4 / 5
An epic read, THE BODY ELECTRIC @bethrevis delivers a main character with heart. Read the review via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)
THE BODY ELECTRIC @bethrevis earns 4 / 5 stars from @Rae_Slater. Read the review (Click to Tweet)