Book Review: THE LAST VOYAGE OF POE BLYTHE by Ally Condie

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe.png

Genre: Dystopia
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

the last voyage of poe blythePoe Blythe is the young captain of her failing city’s last mining ship, travelling the Serpentine River and dredging up gold.

But it isn’t gold on her mind. Two years ago, river raiders robbed Poe of everything. And she wants revenge.

As she navigates the treacherous waters and realises there’s a traitor among her crew, Poe is forced to confront the dangerous truth about why she has been sent on this journey – and reckon with who she has become.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

This is a book I initially picked up for the cover. I’d seen it on Instagram, and the minimalism of the gold contour lines contrasted to the star-like background intrigued me. I knew absolutely nothing about it until I ran across the paperback in a Foyles – I didn’t even know it was getting a UK publication.

The concept of gold dredging caught my imagination immediately. The scramble for resources at the expense of the environment is so topical (not that this book ever feels like it’s trying to be topical), and I’ve not really been reading dystopian for a while so what better way to get back into it than with this slim book? Plus, slim means a nice break from chunky books that tend to form the bulk of my reading.

At barely over 300 pages, THE LAST VOYAGE OF POE BLYTHE packs a LOT in. A dredging mission pursued by the river raiders, a crew Poe can’t trust completely, higher ups she certainly can’t trust, and everyone withholding the most vital information from her.

The pacing is fast, leaping from scene to scene thanks to the incredibly short chapters. The meant the end-of-chapter hooks were more frequent, and they worked! I wanted to keep turning the pages, regardless of what else needed to be done.

It’s not a typical dystopia – no evil government that must be overthrown by a teen hero who rallies a rebellion, not last minute twists concerning the true villain. Yes, there are shades of grey on all sides, and shocking information revealed, but it doesn’t feel at all like the most “classic” YA dystopias, which makes it a fresh breath of air in a somewhat stale genre.

The dredger, clothed in fiendish armour designed by Poe that kills any who attempt to board, is the main setting. I loved the somewhat rusty (in my mind at least!), deeply noisy ship. I could feel the vibrations humming through the enclosed spaces, the claustraphobia of not seeing the sky while on board, and the din of the dredging equipment. The tight quarters made the crew even more untrustworthy. Any spy could be lethal when there was nowhere to run.

This is not a book with a romance in it, as the love of her life is killed in the prologue. None of the other characters try to replace him, so there’s no forced romance arc. Rather, they’re friendship arcs as she relearns that.

Overall, this was a wonderful book that takes a different approach to most dystopians, with a great setting.

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