Thanks to Michael Joseph and NetGalley for the review copy.
I don’t know what I expected when Tom and Gi teased an announcement earlier this year, but it certainly wasn’t that they had written a book together, and especially not that it would be the first in a trilogy of YA dystopian novels based on gender. Eve of Man is definitely my most anticipated book of the year so when I was granted an early review copy it felt like all my Christmases had come at once, and my goodness it did not disappoint!
No girls have been born in 50 years. A generation of men is living on the brink of extinction in the freezing flood waters of a planet ravaged by climate change. They have lost all hope. That is until miracle happens; a girl is born. She is named Eve and she is destined to be the saviour of humanity. We join Eve when she is 16, and she is getting ready to meet her three Potentials. These are boys that have been specially selected for their compatibility, breeding qualities and preparedness for a life dedicated to repopulating Earth. It is down to Eve to choose the best match. She is relatively at ease with the task and she looks forward to bearing the responsibilities ahead. However, when the meetings with the Potentials don’t go to plan, she begins to question everything she knows, with the support of her closest friend.
To be honest, I found the story line weird at first. It’s like a Disney movie! Eve is the princess, sitting in the highest room of the tallest tower with maids (the Mothers) tending to her every need, tasked with choosing her ideal partner from a group of carefully selected appropriate men. Only this time instead of living in a kingdom and being required to continue the royal blood line she is in the middle of dystopian London and is expected to literally reboot humanity! It’s very strange but it works!
The world that Giovanna and Tom have created is vast and it borrows from lots of different places. Not just Disney but from sci-fi too, taking inspiration from the likes of Avatar and Doctor Who. They manage to throw it all together to create something new and original, which is impressive. Having said that, a few of the inventions and scenarios did stretch my imagination a bit too far, making it confusing and less believable. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment overall though.
I instantly fell in love with Eve! She is so sweet and real and not at all like your typical dystopian teen protagonist. In similar novels it annoys me how the main characters are always breaking the rules from the start and then they are surprised when there are consequences. They get themselves into trouble by flagrantly flouting authority and then they’re all “but I don’t want to be a spy/ the Mockingjay/ the Chosen One!!” It gets irritating after a while, but Eve isn’t like that at all. She starts off embracing her role- she’s like “Yeah, I’m the saviour of humanity, and what?” which is really refreshing. She starts to push the boundaries just a tiny bit, then feels the gravity of the consequences and repents. As she starts to question and learn more, she pushes those boundaries gradually further and further in a much more realistic way. It makes her arc glorious!
Her relationships with her fellow characters also develop gorgeously. The villains are superb. They are chilling yet still show glimpses of humanity, so I’m intrigued to find out more about them in the next book.
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews my issues with both Tom and Giovanna’s writing styles and they are repeated here to an extent. It is a little overly explanatory and repetitive in places, and it has instances of phrasing that I wouldn’t have used, but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as in their past novels. In fact, the writing mostly flows well and the pacing is excellent. As with all strong dystopian writing, the next big shock or unexpected twist is never far away and the plot is consistently exciting. It kept me up late every night I was reading it!
I don’t think this review is doing justice to how much I enjoyed the book! Eve of Man is Giovanna’s best work yet by far. She combines her years of building relatable women characters with elements of her non-fiction writing about motherhood and takes on the challenge of writing in a new genre. Her talent shines through brilliantly. As for Tom, well he has the magic of The Christmasaurus to live up to, but he still does an awesome job and I could tell he revelled in writing in a new voice too.
I’m so happy that Eve of Man lived up to my wildly high expectations. It has flaws but the story is so fun, exciting, thoughtful and deep that I absolutely loved it regardless. I would highly recommend that any fans of Gi and Tom, or indeed any fans of dystopian fiction go and grab a copy when it is released. I will be eagerly awaiting the sequel and I can’t wait to read Eve of Man for the second time. In fact, I may just go and start now!
Eve of Man is released on 31st May 2018