Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

A girl trying to fulfill her grandfather's last wish, in a society whose dwellers are divided, by law, between day and night. Plus One is a great story with injections of smart writing and beautiful prose.

In Elisabeth Fama's world the population on earth is divided, in each country, by day and night. A measures taken to prevent further diversification of the Spanish Flu in 1918.

You think the cover is beautiful now?
Read the book and the story will bring a new dimension to the cover.

Many thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux(Macmillan Children's Publishing Group) for providing me with a reading copy through Netgalley. This review is my honest opinion of Plus One.
Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.


Plus One just threw me off track right from the very first sentence. I hadn't really done my research before starting this novel and I actually thought I was in for a story on teenage pregnancy. How wrong I was. The first ARC cover might have been a tad bit responsible for misleading me - one look at the pregnant O and I knew, well at least I thought so, what this story was about:

Smart decision to change cover for this sublime story.
Sadly covers matter a lot, unless you are as famous J.K. Rowling.

When one right makes two wrongs 

You know how sometimes people do things for the right reason? Sometimes it just all gets out of hand no matter how good the intention was initially. In Plus One this goes both for our main character Sol and the society she lives in. Things get out of hand and in the dead of the night good intentions turns sour. This might sound like a dystopian but I wouldn't really say it is.

At its most visible level Plus One can be said to be a story about love in a family as well as broken families. Sol's love for her grandfather(and brother)is truly touching. It reminded me of the loss of my own beloved grandfather, a person that truly held a special place in my heart(as all of my family members do, but some people leaves a greater mark in our hearts than others). I'm not sure I would commit to kidnapping, like Sol did, to put a smile on someone's face. Kidnapping can seem a little extreme, but in Sol's case the situation is so special that I accepted that it had to happen that way.
"But after he tells you how they died, I want you to remember how they lived(...)"

Secondly this is a story about people being unfairly treated by the lawmakers. It is about how they react to it. Some just go with the flow, accept the rules, play by them and even find life good in some ways. The ones who never question why, how or whom. For Sol that is very much how life is, she is not out to change the world, she just wants one last happy moment with her grandfather, to see him smile out of pure joy once more.

It was familiar, it made sense, it was permanent. It had never been presented as a point of discussion.
Also we have these people's very opposites, the people who will fight for everyone elses rights at all costs. They will sacrifice their soul for the sake of others. People like that walk, and have walked, on this earth every day, not just in Fama's alternative version of it. In Plus One the people have started a demonstration against the government. The revolt on the division of hours is led by Grady Hastings and in him all great freedom fighters from our history lives on.

Thirdly this is a romance and that might I add is a wonderfully played bonus.  

The not so insta-love

Mrs. Fama has been clever and she never fell all the way down the insta-trap. Thank you! In a clever manner she drew, by short switches from present to past, an old connection between the two who were romantically involved. It made the whole thing a lot more believable and antagonizing at the same time. All the way through the story I felt that these two can never become one, this cannot possibly end well. I will not reveal the answer here, you just have to read the story to figure it out for yourself.


Elizabeth Fama has done a thorough job with the characters, they are well fleshed out on the page. They are all human - they all have their strengths and weaknesses and the good guys can be bad and the mean ones nice.


I love Elizabeth Fama's language in this novel, there is no dumbing it down. The author trusts her audience to be able to read the text without it being simplified in any way. The language is rich and Fama leaves little doubt that she has a vast vocabulary to work with. Fama and her likes should be an example to others, most young adults and adults needs, and enjoys, the text to challenge them in some way. As I mentioned in the first lines in this monster of a review I adore the prose that can be found in the text.

Powerless But for the star destroyer Unknowing She crash-lands in his heart.

A huge bonus for those of us always happy to learn new things was that Fama had interesting tidbits hidden in the text educating me without it being obvious. I now know about Pavlov's dog, the green flashThe Ink Spots and the hypnagogic twitch - the latter has happened to me for as long as I can remember, but I never knew there was a word for it. I bet some you know the feeling of falling down in your bed before sleep - well that my friend is the hypnagogic twitch.

“Look at the mid- sky, about halfway up from the horizon, and wait for your eyes to adjust,” I said softly. “It will take five to ten minutes.”He was quiet. The sky was full of stars; and the spaces between them were not fully black, because the longer we stared, the more the pricks of other stars peeked behind and next to them. I stole that time to listen to him breathe. I soaked up his presence, storing it for the future, burning it into my memory.


The bridge was geologically ancient, an impassive observer, surrounded by life that was fleeting in comparison: trees that would only survive hundreds of years, tourists who would only live decades, insects that would thrive only for weeks.
The description above is both wonderful and philosophical, and perhaps not the best example of Fama's wonderful work describing the characters surroundings throughout the novel. But hey, it was a very lovely sentence, I had to incorporate it somewhere in my review and this was as good as any. Fama has a way of describing places that makes you want to go there right away. To see what the characters of the story sees, and feel what they feel. I now have an urge to go to the Maquoketa caves state park in Iowa, the Noma camp(sadly it won't be there) and The Harper Memorial Library in Chicago.

Soon the sky had become a blanket of stars; and then it became heavy, bulging down on us, so thick it was like soup that I might reach up and stir with my hand if I tried. And finally, to my relief, Cygnus the Swan and the Great Summer Triangle began to emerge from the cosmos with the faint, cloudy dragon spine of the edge of our galaxy.“Oh my god, is that the Milky Way?” he whispered. My throat got hot. It was the most beautiful thing I could ever have hoped to show him.
There is one incident of sex in this story, but it is nicely done and nothing too graphic. It feels a bit weird to just have to state it in the text, as sex, drugs and swearing is not that uncommon in Nordic YA(those of you who've read The Circle will have an idea about what I mean).

The only negative thing I can say is that I feel that some of Sol's reflections might seem a little too adult for her age, but that is just a minor hitch nothing that sets back the quality of the overall story.

Elizabeth Fama
Photo:  Gene Fama Jr.
  • is Italian, married and has four wonderful young adult children 
  • is well educated
  • likes to jog, swim and play tennis
Check out Elizabeth's homepage for more information. Also check out her family's page for comics and Elizabeth's Hippo.

Other books by Elizabeth Fama:

Upcoming books by Elizabeth Fama:


  1. Wow that one cover is really really really dull, but then other one was cool, and it sounds good too

    1. I know! The new cover is stunning and I like the fact that every detail and color is related to the story :)

  2. Okay, this cover is so gorgeous!
    And it doesn't sound so bad, I might pick it up! :3

    1. When I can only find one negative thing about a novel, unless it is something huge, it is pretty darn great ;)


Thank you for sharing your thoughts =)