Hilary Badger’s State of Grace – A Utopian YA 

Hilary Badger’s State of Grace – A Utopian YA 

There aren’t many contemporary utopian books on the market, and we all know why. It just isn’t very interesting in a world without conflict.  This book does slowly turn into a dystopian, but chances are high that you won’t get that far into the book without a struggle.  The mindless bliss and the language are annoying.  Very annoying.  If you make it through to the dark side, there is an interesting premise, but this ultimately wasn’t a book I connected with.  I gave it a three star rating, but some reviewers at Goodreads were a little more generous.  State of Grace will be re-publishing September 1, 2015.




Goodreads Summary

Ever since she was created, Wren has lived in an idyllic garden with her friends. Wren’s deity Dot ensures the trees are laden with fruit and the water in the lagoon is crystal clear. Wren and her friends have everything they could possibly need right there, in Dot’s Paradise.

If only Wren could stop the strange, disturbing visions she’s started having. Do these visions make her less worthy of Dot’s love? And what does Blaze, the most beautiful and mysterious of Dot’s creations, know about what’s going on in Wren’s head?
Wren is desperate to feel Dot’s love, just like everyone else. But that’s harder than ever when a creation she’s never met before arrives in the garden. He claims to be from outside and brings with him words and ideas that make Wren’s brain hurt.

Gradually Wren and Blaze uncover the truth: they’re part of a clinical trial of an ominous drug called Grace.

And as she deals with this disturbing knowledge, Wren confronts a horrific secret from her past. Now she must decide whether to return to the comforting delusion of faith or fight for the right to face the very ugly truth.


My Thoughts

State of Grace begins in a world where everything is perfect and it is really annoying.  The book opens in a lush and vivid setting where teens are encouraged to simply have fun in homage to Dot, the creator.  They are mindless and insipid, and it was almost intolerable.  Conflicts begin to arise, slowly but with malevolence, and it was hard to peg exactly what horror was going to unfold as utopia slipped into dystopia.  I really wasn’t engaged until the last third of the book, and I think that the last third was worth waiting for, but it takes patience, and if your threshold for silly is low, you probably won’t make it that far. Wren, the main character, does experience growth, and her story is one that, once all the pieces are in place, evokes empathy.  The same is true of Blaze, the other main character.  This was a fast read, and I finished it in a few hours, but I probably wouldn’t have finished the book if I hadn’t requested a review copy.  Overall, this was an interesting concept, and I think that it could be very appealing to YA readers who would find the ideas behind the utopian society intriguing because it is one free from the normal taboos. Language and situations are appropriate for mature high school readers.  It is not explicit, but there are several variations of sexual coercion that are referenced or take place.

I received son ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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