Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

Release date: September 25th, 2012
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age group: YA
Pages: 320
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.


MY THOUGHTS:

Mind blow. MIND SERIOUSLY BLOWN.

So, the setting for the novel is the following: Katie, a Plain girl, a child of an Amish community is waiting anxiously for her Rumspringa (Pennsylvanian German noun meaning "running around"), the period of adolescence for (some) members of Amish community during which they can leave the community and join the "outside" world. The Rumspringa is kind of like this rite - most come back and after that they are baptized to the community, and thus give the promise to live according to the Amish rules for the rest of their life. 

Katie has been planning the things she wants to do when she gets out since she was a child with her friend, and possibly also future husband, Elijah. But everything changes when a helicopter drops to the community field and it seems that the authorities of the outside world are not interested. And Katie is pretty sure she saw something inside the helicopter. More and more rumors start to arrive about the unrest outside the community gates and the elders of the community tell the people no one shall enter the gates and no one shall go out. But when Katie, who has always questioned the rules of the community before believing them, finds an injured young man just outside the community fence, she helps him and hides him from the rest of the community. As more and more start to happen, and the outside somehow smuggles its way in, Katie has to start to question the things she has always believed in and the people she is supposed to be able to trust. 

The Hallowed Ones was such a BIG surprise for me. When I read the synopsis, I found the idea interesting, but not really worth a read. I think the whole religious aspect kind of turned me away from it since I am not at all religious person. But since I picked this one up from my TBR jar, I "had" to read it. And wow, I am so happy that I did.

Katie was so likable as a main character. She is fierce and independent, and unlike the other people in the community, she questions the rules and the teachings. But she is not a complete rebel either - she believes in the teachings of the church and the God that she has grown to love, but she also is aware of other religions, other beliefs and other teachings. She dreams about the outside, but also knows that she will probably come back and marry Elijah. When she finds Alex, the injured man, she begs the men of the community who are willing to shoot him, to let God decide whether he lives or not. She thinks that because she is able to help him, she should do so. The way the relationship between Katie and Alex develops is very well established and written. There is also the relationship between Katie and Elijah which also definitely has its changes as the plot develops. 

What I found most interesting about this novel was the way the Amish community was described and explained for the reader. There are rules and regulations, and different people have more saying than others. As the situation gets more intense and the community is eventually closed, some elements of the community leadership really started to remind me of dictatorship; one man's power over people who trust this said man without questions. I would not go as far as saying that the Bishop is a dictator, but he certainly has his hold over the community. Eventually the will of God becomes a question both Katie and Alex, an "outsider" start to question - there is talk about different religions and different beliefs, and there is this awesome part about Greek mythology that I really loved!

The writing really engaged me from the first page onward, and I was hooked all the way to the end. The pacing of the story is very well established - the story takes its time in forming the relationships and the structures of the community, at the same time keeping you turning the pages in excitement. I loved the thriller, almost horror, elements of the story and the creatures from the outside word, the vampires, are very well established, but there was still questions about them left for the sequel.

And hey, when I say vampires, I do not mean like Twilight style brooding, glowing vampires. I mean actual, bloodthirsty, scary vampires. And honestly, if you do not generally like vampire books, do not push this away because of that. Because this does not really focus that much on the vampires - they are just the factor that starts to cause the tensions inside the community.

I highly recommend The Hallowed Ones to everyone, but especially to those who like dystopian fiction. The sequel for the novel is called The Outside.

1 comment:

  1. I've read this book and it's definitely a unique twist on the vampire storyline! I didn't realize there was a sequel, I'll have to look into it :)

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