Thursday, June 7, 2018

Book Review: A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Media Type: Ebook
Title: A Single Stone
Author: Meg McKinlay
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: Hardcover; 272
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Action Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a MG friendly dystopian novel.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In an isolated society, one girl makes a discovery that will change everything — and learns that a single stone, once set in motion, can bring down a mountain.

Jena — strong, respected, reliable — is the leader of the line, a job every girl in the village dreams of. Watched over by the Mothers as one of the chosen seven, Jena’s years spent denying herself food and wrapping her limbs have paid off. She is small enough to squeeze through the tunnels of the mountain and gather the harvest, risking her life with each mission. No work is more important. This has always been the way of things, even if it isn’t easy. But as her suspicions mount and Jena begins to question the life she’s always known, the cracks in her world become impossible to ignore. Thought-provoking and quietly complex, Meg McKinlay’s novel unfolds into a harshly beautiful tale of belief, survival, and resilience stronger than stone.
What first drew me to A Single Stone was the fact that this is essentially a younger version of the YA and Adult dystopian novels that I love. I was so excited to see how Meg McKinlay would bring Jena's sheltered world to life, and how she would address the society as a whole. I won't lie, I had pretty high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, it failed to reach quite as high as my expectations were set.

To start with the positives, I can say that Jena's society is fairly well laid out in this book. The reader quickly understands that the mountain, and the harvest, are the focal point of life in this small society. Status in Jena's world is based on how much one is able to contribute to the community, and that means that the girls who can descend into the mountain are the elite. I loved this concept, and especially loved the fact that Jena's backstory didn't allow her to be too proud. Her life hasn't been an easy one, and so Jena takes nothing for granted. Which is important in this story.

What I missed, mainly the further I got into the book, was real character development. Although Jena definitely learns the dark secrets that her society hides, she never really grows as a person. I think, and this is completely my opinion, that the lack of real dialogue in this book is really what sets it back. We see what Jena thinks. We see what she does. We never see her really stand up for herself, or her beliefs, though. It made really falling in love with her as a character, and therefore with the characters around her, a lot more difficult.

In fact, I think what this book really needed was just more time. More pages to bring Jena into her own. More opportunity for interactions with her fellow community members and, especially, more time for adventure in the mountain. The book flew by, but I was left at the end feeling like something was missing. I loved the concepts presented in this book, but I feel like they weren't as fleshed out as they could be. So I'm sitting at a three star rating.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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