My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Separation is a very quick read. There isn’t much time spent developing and explaining the world at the beginning, rather the author gives the reader a quick overview and occasionally adds details throughout the course of the novel. While the premise isn’t entirely unique you’re drawn in pretty quickly and wonder what the plot is going to be.
The main characters Ero and Luna have grown up in a society where men and women have been separated. There was a war between the sexes and it was decided that they shouldn’t have contact. The women are taught that men are terrifying, wrong and the broken sex. Ero works as a security guard when she is not attending school or taking care of her Elder, Grace. Grace is 102 years old and was alive before the war. She even was in love with a man named James. Although she is sick during the novel, I wish we had gotten more stories from her. It’s a fascinating bit of history and world building that we miss out on. (Perhaps this could be addressed in a short novella?)
What is Ero to think when she finds a man inside the fence surrounding the compound? She quickly captures him and brings him home, although she is not sure why. Receiving help from Luna who is training in medicine, they stitch the man up and attempt to go back to their normal schedules. That plan doesn’t work out when Ero discovers two more men inside the compound.
We don’t end up seeing much of the first man, but the other two become supporting characters. I wish that the relationships between the four characters were developed a little more because it felt like some just had “instant” connections with one another. While that’s lovely, it’s not believable and I’m a big fan of seeing that develop throughout a novel.
The book is very enjoyable but could have been so much better with a really thorough editor’s run-through to help develop it better. There are a few illogical plot points or overused tropes that pull the reader out of the narrative. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed the book but it had the potential to be better.
For example, Ero and Luna pack two day’s worth of food for their travels and although they try to ration the food they don’t have enough. The journey takes longer than expected and by day three they have run out. It is immediately portrayed as a life or death, they are on their death beds situation. Yes, it is less food than they are used to and I can understand the fatigue, but your body cannot go into starvation mode in less than one day. To make it more unbelievable the author has zero notice on more than one occasion the significant weight they’ve each lost. I understand wanting to raise the stakes and have the reader more emotionally invested, but it just made me want to put the book down due to my frustration.
Ero is also portrayed as the unwilling chosen one. Lacking qualifications, leadership skills or even a friendly disposition – people immediately look to her for everything. Not only does she leader her little ragtag band, which is at least mildly believable but in a time of tribulation, she is looked to as the leader of Genesis. The same women who openly scorned Ero her entire life are now supposed to realistically follow her every word without question? Unlikely.
The final trope that makes the plot-line predictable is the constantly fighting future love interest angle. You’re not invested and fighting for their potential relationship because you know it’s going to happen. I wish that it built more realistically over the course of the novel, rather than being instalove. My hope is that it is explored better in the next novel.
Overall the idea of the novel is fascinating and I want to see where it goes. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series. Unfortunately, the book is not as well fleshed out as it should have been. There isn’t a whole lot of world building or character development. Again I hope that these are addressed in the second book. I would recommend this book to young adult/teen readers who enjoy dystopian and are fans of series like Delirium.