I’ll admit the cover and summary for The August 5 had me envisioning a really awesome book. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was more of a middle school read than a YA book, but it took longer for me to understand this really was going to be a very dull read. It is so boring I was impressed I got through it. I will be more impressed if the intended audience can get through it. Someone misplaced the memo that reminds writers that, while rebellion is interesting, the politics behind it are usually sleep inducing. I still gave this book three stars – it did have its moments, but readers who think they are about to read the next Hunger Games will be disappointed.
The August 5 publishes Tuesday, November 10, 2015
In a world rocked by revolt, your worst enemy can become your greatest hope
Fourteen-year-old Tommy Shore lives a life of privilege: he has the finest clothing, food, and education available and servants to take care of his every whim. He is the son of the chief administrator of Aeren-the most important man on the islands. Fifteen-year-old Tamsin Henry has grown up knowing only poverty, but she is the daughter of a revolutionary who longs to give her and their people more.
Ordinarily, Tommy and Tamsin would never cross paths, but on the day of a violent and deadly revolt, chance brings them together. Now the world waits to hear the fate of the August 5, five men led by, and including, Tamsin’s father and captured during the uprising. As tensions between the government and the rebels escalate, Tommy uncovers a brutal truth about his father. How will he ever get Tamsin to trust that he wants to help her cause, when she believes he stands for everything she’s fighting against?
I really looked forward to reading this book because it sounded like it would be full of action, smokey rebellion and two teens fighting to change their world. While all of those elements were indeed part of the story, the majority of the book focused on politics, and it was boring.
The plot started off with a bang but then it got dredged down with political manuvering. A lot of the plot was spent reiterating the point that the current power structure was bad, something readers and even the characters recognized before the first two chapters were finished.
Tommy, the protagonist from the upper level of society, didn’t have to uncover any shocking secrets about his society or his father. There was no journey of growth or slowly blooming horror as more corruption emerged. He knew from the beginning that his dad was a pretty awful person, so why did the author spend all that time making Tommy see more examples of how corrupt his father and his cronies really were? On top of that, Tommy had very easily weighted internal conflicts. He had no desire to please his father or live up to expectations. I think that is the heart of the problem here. Tommy had nothing to lose besides things he didn’t value, so when he was faced with a conflict between doing what his father expected and doing the noble thing, it was pretty clear which way he was going to go.
Tamsin, the character from the lowest level of society, was also placed in a similar situation. Effort was made to make it clear that she didn’t have anyone she wanted to impress except her own rebel father. No one knew who she was, so it wasn’t like they were threatening to hurt anyone she cared about if she didn’t toe the line. People she cared about were going to be hurt anyway, so what was there for her to lose? Because of the lack of real conflict in the conflicts, it is hard to feel any suspense or anxiety about what choices these two good guys would make.
Overall, I think a lot of my high school readers will become bored by the politics and put this book down. I certainly felt that way less than a third of the way through. Language and situations are appropriate for middle school and beyond.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.