Revived by Cat Patrick
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Science Fiction, 336 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Little, Brown BYR
When I first heard about this one, a lot of people were tossing around the word 'dystopia'; at the time I was reading Slated, which is a dystopia, and which is about a girl whose memory is wiped and she has to start over. When I heard about this I thought the concept was pretty similar, and I was curious to see how they'd play off of each other. But this is not dystopian after all. Nor do I think it was meant to be, and I think it's stronger for not taking that path. Revived takes place now, and is told in a way that makes it completely plausible for this type of thing - covert experiments on new drugs, somewhat shady government outfits, etc. - to be going on right under our noses. I think a lot of authors would have tried to make this a doom-and-gloom dystopia, and I think that's probably why so many people were tossing around that word. But I have to say, I'm really glad it's not. I appreciate that Cat Patrick didn't take that route, and instead made it a more insular, more relatable story. As contemporary science fiction, it works; as a dystopia, it would fall flat.
But because I had been anticipating a dystopian story, this didn't entirely go where I was expecting it to. And even once I started reading the story and realized that it wasn't dystopia, readjusted my perception and thought I had the story all figured out, it still didn't go exactly where I was expecting it to. And this was a good thing. I mean, it did go there in the end, it worked its way back to the shady covert sci-fi thing, but there was a detour through some much more human, relatable territory I wasn't expecting, and it made it more interesting and poignant as a result. Much more human and natural than it would otherwise have been. I don't want to risk giving anything away, but I was pleasantly surprised by the places Patrick took this and the way it sort of muddled genres into something realistic and authentic for Daisy, the MC.
And speaking of, Daisy was a really good main character, and she was surrounded by an excellent supporting cast. I really loved her relationships with other people in the book and how organic they felt; there could have been some risk of insta-lovey-ness, but this was one of those rare cases of the speed of things making absolute sense. The relationships are a very believable level of gooey, and tempered by some darker, real-life things, which, coupled with the characters' reactions to those things, keeps the story safe from disgusting YA love levels. I also especially loved Daisy's relationship with her not-really-father/secret-agent, Mason. This was such a great dynamic and it really brought a lot of personal feel to the story, especially compared to most YA lit, where adult characters and parental figures are mostly dead, missing, or absentee.
I really loved the "God Project", the secret testing of the drug Revive. Patrick explores the murkiness of the morality in a thing like this, with how the project was dealt with, the shadowy megalomaniacal aspect, the carelessness with life that would come from being able to cheat death, etc. Daisy's realizations of the chances she's been given and how cavalier she has always been about death when she suddenly has to confront the finality of it was effective and well done, and it gave the book dimension I wasn't expecting. I did see the end and the villains coming a mile away, but in a dramatic irony/intentional way, not an obtuse, why-doesn't-she-get-it? way. And there were a couple of things that were revealed here and there - the depth of the conspiracy and the zealotry - that I wasn't expecting but was pleasantly pleased to find.
All in all, Revived was very quick, readable and entertaining. It's also a very rare stand-alone (woot woot!), which always makes me happy - I love when an author can give you just 1 complete novel and not be afraid to leave the ending just open enough that you can build your own idea of what will happen to the characters and what their futures will hold. And on a random note, I love the cover. It's one of those rare instances of a "pretty" cover actually meaning something to the book, but in an abstract, thoughtful way. Well done.