Thursday, November 5, 2015

ARC Review: The August 5 by Jenna Helland

The August 5
Author: Jenna Helland
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (November 10, 2015)

Description: In a world rocked by revolt, your worst enemy can become your greatest hope

Fourteen-year-old Tommy Shore lives a life of privilege: he has the finest clothing, food, and education available and servants to take care of his every whim. He is the son of the chief administrator of Aeren - the most important man on the islands. Fifteen-year-old Tamsin Henry has grown up knowing only poverty, but she is the daughter of a revolutionary who longs to give her and their people more.

Ordinarily, Tommy and Tamsin would never cross paths, but on the day of a violent and deadly revolt, chance brings them together. Now the world waits to hear the fate of the August 5, five men led by, and including, Tamsin's father and captured during the uprising. As tensions between the government and the rebels escalate, Tommy uncovers a brutal truth about his father. How will he ever get Tamsin to trust that he wants to help her cause, when she believes he stands for everything she's fighting against?

My Thoughts: This was an interesting story about right triumphing over might. The government is controlled by the Zunft government who are the major landowners and business owners. The Cottagers are the ones who work the land and do all the work the upper class doesn't. They are essentially tenant farmers on the Zunft land. A revolution is brewing among the Cottagers who want equal rights. Tamsin Henry's father is a journalist and one of the leaders of the revolution. He gives Tamsin the task of setting a fire on their home island which is part of an orchestrated beginning to the revolution.

Tamsin gets hurt in the explosion and is found by Tommy Shore who is the son of the Zunft politician Colston Shore who wants to put down any hint of revolution by the Cottagers. Tommy was raised by Cottager Mrs. Trueblood and seldom saw his father who was busy in the city with his government duties. Tommy doesn't agree with his father's rigid policies toward the Cottagers but has no power. Tommy leaves Tamsin on the doorstep of another Cottager rather than turn her over to his father's soldiers.

Tommy and his twin Bern are sent by their father to the capital where they will be attending the Seminary - a school for the sons of the Zundt party. This year, because of more liberal policies of Chief Administrator Hywel, three girls are attending but are facing harassment not only from other students but from some of the professors. He is sheltered in the Seminary while things become more unsettled outside.

When Cottagers revolt, the revolution is quickly put down and among those arrested is Tamsin's father. Tommy's father uses the unrest to execute a coup of his own as his party takes over the government. Everyone is told the Chief Administrator Hywel has been kidnapped by Cottagers and Shore uses that as a reason to gather more power to himself and make conditions more difficult for the Cottagers.

Tommy and Tamsin meet again in the capital where Tamsin's first idea is to kidnap Tommy in exchange for her father. But, together, they learn some things and come up with another plan. I liked seeing how both Tamsin and Tommy changed during the course of this story. I also liked the way right triumphed.

I did think that the story was a little slow-paced and that the writing style sometimes got in the way of the story. The was way too much tell and not nearly enough show. The characters were also rather one-dimensional with Tommy being a sweet do-gooder who doesn't have any power and Tamsin a rabid revolutionary. Readers who want to see kids accomplish great things may enjoy this one though.

Favorite Quote:
"What do you say?" Emilie asked.

"I think honor is about what you do when nobody's watching," he said.

"And what about when everybody is watching?" she asked.

"It shouldn't change a thing," he said.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

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