Review: Riot by Sarah Mussi

RiotPublished: May 1, 2014 by Hodder Children’s
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352

Years of cuts have devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing.  The authorities cannot cope.  And the population has maxed out.

The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.  The country is aghast, but the politicians are unshakeable.  No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need.

It’s time for the young to take to the streets.  It’s time for them to RIOT.

At the beginning of Riot, I was in love. I loved everything. I loved the premise. I loved the writing. I loved Tia’s voice and I wasn’t expecting it to go where it did in the early pages. But somewhere along the way, the book seemed to step back from its original idea and went somewhere else. Riot is kind of a political thriller, but it takes a big step beyond its original premise. I eventually decided I was okay with that, but it wasn’t what I thought I was getting into, so on that front, I couldn’t help but be at least a little disappointed.

I liked Tia a lot. I liked that she was naive in some ways and not in others, though at times it got a bit frustrating because she wasn’t cluing in on things when she should have been, but overall I thought she was an interesting choice of heroine for this type of book. I didn’t think the dynamic it created between her and Cobain was very original, but it did help form a kind of dichotomy between them. I liked the way Mussi demonstrated their different methods of dealing with what was thrown at them.

I liked the book’s spin on social media – I thought it was an interesting idea, and while I wasn’t entirely convinced, it definitely intrigued me. I would have liked it if the book could have gone into the origins of Darknet7 and the ADAM and EVE stuff in more detail, but I guess that isn’t really what the book was about, so I’m sort of okay with what we got.

There were some religious undertones throughout the book that felt okay at first (with the ADAM and EVE stuff, and a few other things), but by the end of the book, they were more frequent and I will admit I was left feeling a little lost and confused by all of it. There were a few times that the book got a bit carried away with technical stuff and I lost track of what was going on as well. Tia talks like she knows what she’s talking about, but the hows and whys aren’t really explained at all, and while I was okay with that to an extent, it also made for some very confusing passages.

I will also say that I disliked the romance. I liked Tia and Cobain as characters, and liked their interactions and the way they treated each other in general, but to put a romance between them in this book felt very tacked on and I couldn’t really get past that. I did roll my eyes a bit at the constant “cat-green eyes” mentions early on in the book, though. I don’t think that’s something I would have focused on if I had been so afraid of or intimidated by someone with his reputation, haha, so I had a hard time finding that aspect very believable. I was also a bit disappointed with the ending for reasons I won’t get into in this review; it does bring things together, but not in the most satisfactory fashion.

In the end, though, Mussi’s writing made me really happy, and that made me really like this book. I loved Tia’s almost-stream of consciousness voice, and I… just loved it. I can’t really describe it any other way. It felt genuine to me in a lot of ways. I am definitely interested in picking up more of her books in the future.

Overall, while Riot pulls you in with one idea and then goes running with another, I thought it was a really interesting ride, though brutal at times. I had a hard time putting it down and definitely found my mind wandering during shifts at work, wondering what was going to happen next.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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