Merin is a teacher, a book blogger, a baseball addict (Go Cardinals!), lover of music, movies and TV crime dramas, and YA/MG connoisseur. Follow me on my blog at http://ahandfulofconfetti.wordpress.com!
I enjoyed Chosen Ones, but can easily say that Naturals is better. You can certainly tell that this is Ms. Truitt's second book. The plotting and pacing are better, and the characters more relatable. I found Tess, especially, to be extremely strong in this installment. She was much more willing to confront her feelings and think about how her upbringing impacted her. I liked her strength of character and her conviction that what she was doing was right. For me, the main draw of this book is Tess, and I was really pleased to see her growth.
I also liked that this book helped further establish the dystopian world used in this series. Tess is away from the compound, out in the so-called "wilds", and you really got a better sense of what the world was like through her journey to the Isolationists' camp. It was interesting to see the stark contrast between compound life and the life these people chose to live away from everyone. It was very much reminiscent of the pioneers' journey out west back in the early days of the United States, when food was not in abundance and everything had to be gained through physical work of some sort. Since Tess was "pampered" for most of her life, she finds the transition difficult, and I found her journey to be extremely realistic and well done.
"I can't help but wonder if there has ever been a place where freedom truly existed. I think freedom is what mankind fears most in the world. When you're free, you can't blame anyone or anything for who you become." - 81%
This book is much more action-packed, even though a large portion of it is taken up by Tess' learning to fend for herself and work to keep herself and the community alive and thriving. Even though she is supposedly safe, there is a definite sense of threat underlying everything, and this is ratcheted up when she becomes ill. I was really pleased that we got to see James again, even though Henry's actions leading up to their reunion really rubbed me the wrong way. He is such an angry character, and while I suppose some of it is warranted, I can't get behind his actions or thoughts, and really found myself not liking him at all. Like the contrast between Tess' previous life and the one at the camp, James and Henry are so different from each other. I like that James really seems to respect Tess' decisions and is willing to let her lead, whereas Henry wants to be the one in control and do what he feels is best for her, regardless of her feelings on the subject. I will be interested to see how their relationship progresses with the events at the end of the book.
Naturals is a much faster read than its predecessor. Tess is more likable, and the reader is really able to get inside her head and understand her feelings and where she's coming from. I loved seeing her personal growth, and can only hope that continues, even with the reveal at the end. I like how she still struggles to not be the girl the Council turned her into, and the steps she's taking to ensure she lives her life according to her own rules. If you liked Chosen Ones, you definitely need to pick up Naturals, as it is an extremely solid continuation of the series. Just be forewarned that the ending will leave you extremely anxious and impatient for the as-yet-unnamed final installment!
An e-galley was provided by the publisher for blog tour purposes.
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