Genre: YA Dystopian
Author: Sean Joyce
Publication Date: June 17, 2012
Blurb: In the Zones, a troubled society walled off from the outside world, nineteen-year-old Dylan lives in the crossfire between rampaging gangs known as hoods, and tyrannical government guards.
Trapped in a brutal reality, he confronts the helplessness of his situation the only way he can—through his art. By day, he takes on the role of protector, caring for his little sister, Lil. By night, he lives a secret life, breaking the curfew and braving the dangerous Zones to paint the perimeter wall with his subversive images. But with the eye of the warden upon him, and the hoods tightening their grip on the Zones, inaction is no longer an option. He must do the one thing no one else has dared to—unite the downtrodden residents and reawaken their hope.
Project Hope was sent to me by Sean Joyce after winning a fellow book blogger's giveaway and I was so excited to add another YA Dystopian to my bookshelf.
Dylan's day begins with taking Lil to school, a run down apartment of a former teacher where the younger kids gather to practice reading and writing. But, that's all they have now. He reminds Lil to keep her eyes down and keep walking until they get there, not drawing attention to themselves because someone is always watching.
Then, he goes to the wall to wait for the buses to bring him and his fellow Zone workers to work in the factory. Occasionally, you'll see an escape attempt which is the fastest way to suicide in the zones. Well, that or refusing to give into the "hoods" demands.
But Dylan and Lil are trying to remain under the radar...at least when Dylan isn't painting the wall separating them from the way the world was...back then.
I'd like to begin by saying that this story is not meant to be light and fluffy. There is a darkness and realness to this world that Sean Joyce created that can be tough to read. However, there is enough beauty among the rubble to make this story a fast-paced, gripping novel - and still kept me smiling.
I adored all of the characters in this story - Dylan and Lil were interesting and diverse in their sibling roles while Dylan's best friend Oscar was the perfect addition to this little family. Even the relationship between Oscar and his dad was wonderful in continuing this unfortunate family dynamic. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters, their struggles, and flaws.
On the other hand, I felt very confused about the reason why the wall was even there. I mean, eventually *most* of the pieces fit together, however, it took so long for us to get to that point that I almost want to re-read the story now that I know certain particulars. Although piece-y story telling can be epic, in this case it didn't quite work. I just wished the historical development of why this community is behind the wall, when the separation occurred between Zone's and the rest of the world, was more clear.
Furthermore, and I hope this makes sense, but even with the slow developing "whys" the world was very well-developed. I felt like I could see the buildings, the people, and the pain and suffering surrounding Dylan and Lil. Even the lack of social contact was apparent and understood.
I love the reflection and usage of art as an outlet for the inward struggles in this society, however it isn't over used or exploited in a way that is inorganic. And the unique friendships and relationships developed throughout this story was beautifully choreographed.
Project Hope is a story that I am more than pleased to have on my bookshelf - and I would suggest lovers of YA Dystopian to most definitely add it to theirs as well. :)
What's your favorite Dystopian novel?