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Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Where did you get the book: Paper arc from Publisher
Release date: Out now

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

plusoneSeventeen-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.

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

The cover of Plus One is what first drew my attention to the book. It’s beautiful and striking, and tells a story itself. Also, the premise of the book was unique; people that were segregated by day and night. The Rays and the Smudges. I was intrigued by this worldbuilding. While I think the premise is quite enthralling, unfortunately, I found faults with the execution which I’ll explain later on in the review. So while I had problems with the worldbuilding, I first want to mention how much I enjoyed the heroine, Soleil Le Coeur.

She’s quick, smart and crude when pissed off. I loved the fight and drive she had in her, despite her ludicrous and crazy plan (she purposely tried to chop off part of her little finger to get inside of the hospital. cray cray) of kidnapping her niece so her dying Grandfather could see her before he passed away. She concealed the baby inside her jumper. What?! It seemed too easy that everything fell into place that Sol managed to get home without being seen or checked by carrying a baby under her hoodie. Yet it’s pretty consistent with her character..

Sol was consistent throughout the book and she’s loyal to a fault. I loved her interaction with Day Boy, the medical apprentice that treats her alongside his mother. Day Boy is of course called D’Arcy. She assumes certain facts about D’Arcy but when he gets pulled inside her crazy plan, Sol learns that she pictured him wrong. I loved their interaction from start to finish. It’s a wary relationship that slowly blossoms into respect, and even though they wouldn’t admit it, they start to like one another and it grows into a nice romance. D’Arcy helps Sol, despite the fact that his life could be ruined. But he does help her, and continues to help her, and she starts to listen to D’Arcy and engages with him. The middle of the book is quite slow and while nothing of importance happens to the story itself, it’s a time for D’Arcy and Sol to bond a little and to become more aware of each other, especially when Sol realises D’Arcy is someone quite special. I can’t say what due to spoiler. I guessed who he was since it was predictable but it was sweet nonetheless. Through the story, Sol only acknowledges her medical apprentice as Day Boy. But Day Boy ceases to exists to Sol and becomes D’Arcy at a certain point. So the romance is quite touching and full of emotion. That I enjoyed.

Oh the worldbuilding. I admire what the author attempted but a lot of it made no sense. So Day and Night separation first came into being during the Spanish Flu outbreak where millions upon millions of people perished. Doctors, nurses and medical staff were ordered into shifts to avoid collapsing from exhaustion. There were doctors and nurses who worked in the day and those that worked in the night. It worked so well that it was ordered that other medical industries would use the same curfew of night and day. And that worked so well, with production at an all time best, that they decided to enforce it completely over everything. The government set up an Office of Assignment who decided who’d become Day and Night. Even though the flu pandemic was over, the system stayed in place, and other countries around the world based the system from the American one.

It seemed like a lot of stuff was glossed over. If the government enforces it, why was there such prejudice amongst the Rays towards The Smudges? Most Rays you come across in the book are terrible people. There’s no discrimination on who becomes a Ray and/or Smudge. Smudges have become scum due to the fact they’re night dwellers, chosen by the government and whether your parents are Smudges or Rays. For example, Sol’s niece is a Ray because Cecil, her brother, became a Ray when he was arrested, despite being a Smudge all of his life. Depending on family units and circumstances, you can become a day or night dweller. I don’t understand why there wasn’t there a massive uprising against the injustice on a worldwide scale? How can you do business with other countries when half the population is restricted to night-time? Why did the medical doctors and nurses agree to carry on working in this way when I’m pretty sure it goes against the Hippocratic oath of doing no harm, especially in what is revealed later on? So many questions were glossed over that left the idea of the world implausible.

Plus One has very weak worldbuilding but I loved the engaging Sol and her sweet and lovely romance with D’Arcy.

By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

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