The Diseased Ones by Danielle Harrington
Publication Date: 8 February 2020
Life is easy in 2647, unless you’re a Diseased One…
On the morning of her 16th birthday, Hollis Timewire receives the worst possible news. She can’t become a citizen of the world. She’s a Diseased One.
Born with a biomarker that bestows dangerous, brain-altering powers, Hollis is forced to hide underground with other Diseased Ones, who believe that the government falsified history to cover up their genocide.
Now Hollis must discover the truth, and is willing to risk anything, including her powers, to go back home.
I received an e-ARC from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
So at first glance, this book had so much potential. Sure, the title isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but I’m sure there are plenty of people like me that would go ‘ooh, I wonder what that’s about.’
Basically, Hollis is a normal 16 year old girl, living in a society where people don’t show their emotions. They are forbidden from touching other people. Children are also segregated by gender, with boys and girls educated separately. At age 16, everyone is tested to see if they have the genetic mutation that causes superpowers. Obviously, Hollis has that biomarker, and her powers manifest. The rest of the story follows Hollis as she tries to come to terms with her abilities, as well as learning to control them, after being taken in by ‘The Diseased Ones.’
I’ll say at the outset that the writing was pretty decent. I found Hollis’ first person, present tense, stream-of-consciousness narration kind of grating in the beginning, but you get used to it after a while.
The pacing was a bit off. There were long stretches where we just follow the minutiae of everyday life, and Hollis learning to control her powers. The action only starts to happen in the last 15- 20% of the book.
I also found a lot of the plot fairly predictable, and I felt like I was just waiting for something to happen. And when it did, I wasn’t surprised, or shocked, or… anything really.
Most of the characters were flat, but that tends to be what happens with this type of first person limited narration. Only Hollis gets any development, and I’m not really sure it was of the forward moving kind. She tended to be stubborn and naive, to the point where I wondered if she was being wilfully ignorant, despite all the information she received.
And I don’t even really want to talk about the romance. It’s not that it was bad per se, but she ‘falls in love’ with the first boy she ever touches. And she falls quickly. I’ll let you make your own conclusions about that.
Finally, I felt that the turning point – the event that actually starts the action – was very contrived. The series of random events that lead to the climax were inconsistent with the rest of the plot (and characterisation), and seemed conveniently slung in, in order to drive Hollis to action. And it seemed like a complete over-reaction.
The other little thing that bothered me was a question of logistics. Where on earth did they get all that food while living underground? It’s still bothering me.
Ultimately, I think this could have been a decent book. The ideas were interesting, but I think they weren’t executed as well as they could have been. Sadly, this book just wasn’t for me.