Unstrung is a fast, zippy, dystopian YA that deals with some pretty deep issues not commonly seen in the genre. Drug addiction, forced prostitution and slavery to name a few and I applaud Highley and for giving the main character Lexa, a real life problem in a made up world. It takes a lot of work to create a flawed heroine that isn't immune to their own disease. It is part of her present, not just her past and it works brilliantly.
The action is non-stop, set over approximately a week, Lexa jumps into more tasks than any thief or would be revolutionist would go through in a year. You can't doubt that this is a high adrenaline thrill ride.
The romantic line was well handled. I liked that there was an emotional push and pull within both the leads. That continuous sense of doubt creeping in made it believable and showed Lexa as a strong willed young woman that isn't afraid to question her own reasoning. It's hard to properly explain the nature of the relationship without creating spoilers, but it explores the nature of destiny and how it effects the involvement of one's emotions toward another.
But, I have a few issues. I tend to forgive first person narratives a lot, because it's very hard to present a well rounded view of the world when only looking through one person's eyes. However, there is a real lack of background in Unstrung. I just kept asking 'why?'. I don't know why the villians are villians, I didn't get any sense of motivation for what occurs except on a micro level between the main characters. I didn't feel involved and so I found myself not really caring about the general world or it's inhabitants. Which irked me, quite a bit in the end.
Another thing that made my teeth grind is my favourite sin, the deus ex machina. I can forgive once or twice, but more than that just seems a lazy way to keep getting your protagonist out of trouble. It is used so often in the book, it actually spoils the cliff hanger ending, because you already know that there isn't any danger in it. There'll be something/someone that pops in to save it all. It could've been a great little book if there had've been a real sense of struggle to it.
The big reveal was also horribly predictable. As soon as the androids were mentioned, it was just a wait for it to be confirmed. Granted it's not uncommon for a reader to be way ahead of the book in a good proportion of YA dystopia novels, but I just think a little better handling would've made the impact a lot more forceful. My heart would've been a bit more caught up in the drama.
Overall though, this is still a fun read. I think it has the potential to be quite a unique series, but it really needs to start digging into the wider sense of the world to give it more depth and let Lexa shine with her skills rather than just having her constantly rescued.
If you like a good dystopian, with a strong yet flawed main character that isn't shy is hammering some hard subjects, this indie release is worth checking out. I will be checking out the next instalment in hopes to see it flourish. This review was originally posted on Book Frivolity