2 out of 4 stars
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I would like to say Division by Desy Smith is the story of a planet where men and women have lived in separate societies for centuries and what happens when they finally start reintegrating. I would like to say that, but I cannot. Because while I think that maybe the story of the Division series as a whole, this, Book One, was barely a prologue.
In this book, we meet Essence and Horatio, our two main protagonists. On their world, women have telepathic powers and men have telekinetic powers. Essence and Horatio each have both. This makes them special and dangerous to Highness and Emperor, the leaders of their factions, who also each have both powers. We first meet Essence and Horation at major turning points in their lives when they are young (pre-teens) and then see them again as older teens/young adults on a mission back to Earth, where they supposedly mistakenly meet each other. In this confrontation, they each learn the other has both powers. Right after this, we learn that Essence is going to be sent to become Emperor’s wife. And that is the end.
It occurred to me, as I was thinking about writing this review, that more than anything, this reminded me of reading serials. If Smith were publishing Division as a serial in a magazine, this would have been one or two entries, and I would be somewhat interested in coming back for the next installment. But as a book, this does not work. There is no story, no plot. This was simply the introduction of her main characters, her world, and the plot. But that is all it was, an introduction.
What I liked most about the book was the idea that the population of women and men on Gaia (the world Division is set on) had been lied to thoroughly, not just about their own origins, but about what had happened on Earth. I did not find it very plausible that this instance where Essence and Horatio meet would also be the first time in centuries that someone from Gaia realized things were different on Earth from what they had been told, but I still liked the twist.
To be honest, there was a lot I did not like about this book, but the sexual politics were the part I liked least. There seemed to be some recognition on the female side that not all women fit feminine stereotypes, but there was none of that recognition on the male side of the world. Every man we meet is hyper-masculine, and there were no references to any male being any different. I could not help but wonder if this was a story the author had originally written in her teenage years that she is now trying to update.
And finally, this book needs an editor, specifically an editor who understands verb tense. There were a lot of little mistakes, misplaced commas and the like, that are easy to make and do not impact the reading experience much. But the verb tense issue made reading the story difficult. The author wants to write in present tense, but that is not the way we naturally tell stories, and she often switched back and forth between the present, past, and present perfect tenses in a single sentence. It made my head hurt. If it had not been a very short book, I would not have been able to complete it for this reason alone.
In the end, I give Division by Desy Smith two out of four stars. It could develop into a really interesting story. It is for that potential that I do not give it one star, but it needs work.
As it stands now, Division is suitable for just about anyone 13 and up who is not going to be offended by talk of birth control (an IUD is falsely blamed as the reason the founders of Gaia left Earth centuries before), but it feels like it is going to become a young adult romance. So if that is a genre that interests you, you might want to give this one a chance.
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