Giving this a star because of Mei the crazy best friend. Anyone who observes Slapsgiving Day EVERYDAY is worthy of note, but anyone who exercises it against Retta deserves some love.
I sincerely believe that somewhere in the deep, blue heart of this book is a story worth telling. Like a needle lost in a haystack. In the middle of Hong Kong Central Station rush hour.
Which is such a disappointment because I am not a hardcore sci-fi reader precisely because my imagination is still trying to get its legs. And a sci-fi YA book on android-human love set in Mars sounds grounded enough to some realm of plausibility for an occasional dabbler like I am. After reading this for 5 days (which might as well be a month for me), I think I can safely claim that this did NOT do Blue Hearts of Mars any favors.
The summary is pretty encompassing. What it didn't mention is that in the world Retta and Hemingway lives in, androids are discriminated against. They're beautiful, strong and intelligent but humans look down upon them and deemed inferior because of the details in the fabric of their being: namely a blue heart. Hormonally drenched and blinded by Hemingway's perfection, Retta is motivated to defy her school, her family, her freaking government to get to the bottom of android discrimination and in the process, stumbles on a secret that will change everything.
Thrilling, right? Promising possibilities of world building, political intrigue maybe and a kickass heroine that will save the hero. Okay this is the point where we have to recalibrate our expectations. Because this is a book that has this
I knew I was sounding desperate, but the time for caring about that ended when I first realized I wanted him. It was like he pulled the desperation out of me with his intense eyes and stupidly perfect smile. If I wasn't so smitten with him, I would have simply hated him for being a model of physical perfection.
And eventually climaxed with this
There is a kind of light that does not burn. The sun in our sky is a poor substitute for this light. All life begins as an intelligence. Another word for this is a soul.
I was going to spoiler tag that but it doesn't make really much sense. You can attempt to read this book up to that point (around 85%, I reckon) but it still won't make any sense. What makes it worse is that Retta doesn't understand it either... But she cries over it.
Awesome. It's like me crying over a Japanese drama show on the radio. (I speak no Japanese)
And since I've already started with the Retta-bashing, I'm just going to go with the ranting flow. Retta sounds like everything I don't like about girls her age: she's shallow, boy-crazy, judgmental, arrogant and likes to say 'like' plus the extra charm of other tics (ie. the hair-twirl. While talking to a guy.)
Finding a redeeming quality about our narrator was a definite challenge. Right to the bitter end.
Sure, she actively fought for equality between androids and humans... motivated by her burning need to hugkisslove Hemingway. Fair warning, she was a total horndog over the android (who was puff pastry much of the time, by the way) the entire first half of the book.
Sure she stands up for and defends her opinions... against the spineless secondary characters (ie. her dad who she openly calls a 'moron') whose sole purpose was to make Retta appear awesome. Fair warning, they fail.
Sure she thinks outside of the box coming up with the idea of replacing her sister's cardiomyopathic heart with one that is "made"... but she's not the kind of girl who'll come up with the idea that would require any sacrifice from her. She bulldozed through her father's protest against making her sister a cyborg and all I could think of was why can't Retta have the mechanical heart and give her own heart to her sister? Fair warning, Retta sucks as a daughter AND as a sister.
Sure she eventually came to become strong enough to defend herself physically... but her escape plan consists of ORDERING Hemingway to carry her as they flee from the bad guys.
Who by the way didn't really sound that bad nor the threats they posed scary.
I really want to say that the world building at least saved this but I feel short-changed by the limited imagination. The fact that the Mars created here was essentially earth with unimaginative names and details for cities (New Helsinki, New Tokyo, New Sydney), mildly funky gadgets and different currencies read a little on the lazy side, no matter the plot excuse. The story had a lot of potential to delve into the heavier subjects of religion, creation and what sets us humans apart which were either explained hazily or brushed aside in favor of Retta's mundane musings about a random character. This would've been forgivable if the intent was to be light and fluffy but the writing invites you to ask about these things but refuses to give any answers in a logical manner.
With plot twists happening without preamble, characters running away without anyone chasing them and coming back without anyone even caring, logic is clearly the least of this book's priorities. A certain fail for this genre. The final nail in the proverbial coffin being a lofty solution to the problem that would've made me want to get on my Bob Dylan, strumming "The Times They Are A'Changin"... but this doesn't have the appropriate level of cool.
It was great. Really perfect. I mean, all I had to do was almost get defiled and killed to get him kissing me again. No big deal. I'm sure most girls execute similar plans all the time.
Something that was meant to be funny but just ended up rubbing me wrong.
So I guess we'll have to settle with Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" instead.
ARC provided by the author thru Netgalley in exchange for an impartial, honest review... brought to you by a delayed flight and unlimited airport wifi.