Review: Venus City by Tabitha Vale
Blurb from Amazon:
“His magenta eyes flashed up to meet hers and for a moment she thought she saw something spark behind them—something fierce, something challenging.” In a city where boys’ eyes are magenta and their emotions of lust, anger, greed, and ambition are remarkably absent, spoiled Braya Vace finds herself in the biggest problem of her young life when she meets handsome, blue-eyed Asher Benedict. It wasn’t supposed to be possible. There wasn’t supposed to be anyone else living outside Venus City. As she tries to unravel the mystery of Asher and his group of foreigner boys, the rest of Braya’s life seems to crumble apart around her. A disapproving mother, a sick younger sister, a mysterious brother, and a humiliating career as a Bride are just a few of the things that Braya has to deal with. Those, and her conflicting feelings for Asher.
Random: An annoying main character that later grows on you.
A dystopian society that reverses gender roles is always interesting because of the implications. Venus City is intriguing because it has women in power and the men are forced into submissive states. It is also an isolated city that has no contact with the outside world so when are outsiders break in, it changes the people within.
Character-wise, Braya is a character you love to hate because she is so annoying at the start of the book (and even two-thirds of the book in, honestly). She has a condescending attitude, essentially friendless (thanks to her bad attitude), and just treats people like they are worthless. It was hard to believe that she was going to be a romantic interest for someone but then Asher as the Romantic Interest was introduced; it was believable that he would fall for her and vice versa. Asher is a member of Locer Shark ( a possible terrorist group) but more importantly, an outsider to Venus City who didn’t grew up with the ideology that “men are stupid and women are superior in every form.” He challenges Braya and her understanding of men. Aspen is Braya’s brother who may not be like all the other men in Venus City and when Aspen and Braya are together, Braya looks hideous because she is vicious towards him. Bellamine is the younger sister of Braya and Aspen and she suffers from Tristant, a debilitating disease. It is only when Braya is next to Bellamine does she appear to be compassionate and so much nicer.
As for the villains, I didn’t particular care about them because it is not obvious who the villains are. They are absent throughout most of the book. The most obvious villain or antagonist is Charlotte, Braya’s mother, who treats her children like they are worthless. She is dominating and scary.
I realize I haven’t talked about the plot yet so let’s remedy that . Asher and the Locer Sharks are outsiders who are going to “de-haze” Venus City and forced the city to interact with the outside world that is being ravished by a war. Venus City doesn’t know a war is going on because it is isolated or at least, it’s citizens don’t know that. Asher and Braya get to know each other through the de-hazing process and fall for each other. As this is happening, Braya has to find the cure for Tristant for her dying sister.
Venus City is quite an interesting city. It is a negative-stereotype-of-a-feminist’s dream come true because it just constantly beats down on men. The women who are Crowns (the wealthy) are like “ Don’t be friendly with men, they are worthless” and treat them like crap. Braya doesn’t treat Aspen, her brother, with respect because she grew up believing that she should not like men. The book is a bad feminist’s dream on the surface but as we dig deeper, we realized that even though the women are in power, they are actually quite weak. They have no compassion for one another and there are no sisterly bonds that are genuine. Braya and her “friends” hang out together because they are forced to be together and they are constantly at each other’s throat. The idea of domesticity is viewed as repulsive, having children is repulsive and it is a twisted ideology coming from Braya who was indoctrinated by her mother, Charlotte. At the same time, the domestic aspect of life is connected to being Brides who are essentially breeders and they have to reproduce beautiful children. It seems like young females can raise their status by being breeders so there are two trains of thoughts running. There is a Bride school where Brides are given husbands so the society has no concept of romance and love. It’s a society of mistreatment and hatred.
One of the unique characteristic of this novel is the insults. “Mud” for the males and “Finches” for the females. It was quite creative on Vale’s part because it is like cussing yet not cussing. I do wish she had come up with something new instead of using “effing.” Using “effing” breaks the illusion that Venus City is a world apart (or a few hundred years apart from now). What the word “effing” does, it connects Venus City to our current world and I don’t think they should be connected because Venus City is following a different timeline. However, it is only the first book and it might be that the planet Venus City is located on is Earth so “effing” is possibly foreshadowing this relation. At this moment, “effing” is bothering me and it doesn’t jive with the book.
Overall, I like the book because as annoying Braya is with her attitude, she has enough human moments that make her tolerable. The ideology that half of the characters spout is interesting because it is twisted and both sides of the argument are represented. At the same time, the ideology doesn’t dramatically altered the normal status quo of the world because it still keeps heterosexuality at the core of society.
Qualifies for: E-book Challenge