Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (1/5)
*I received a copy via the publisher in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
Meri Beckley is forced on the run when she discovers the world she lives
in isn’t as truthful as she was thought it was. Months after the death of her
artist mother, Meri tries to understand her mother’s thoughts in her unfinished
pieces. Then one day, someone thrusts a piece of paper in her hands with
one world: verify. There she discovers questions no one is willing to answer
and learns a history that she didn’t know existed. However, the government
is close on her tail, and she has no choice but to fight back.
This book is a mess. I’m actually surprised that this book is being
published in the state that it is in. If this was 2013, Verify could have stood
a chance in the dystopian young adult market, but right now, it’s nothing
new and falls exceptionally flat. I really wish I could say this book just
wasn’t for me, another reader might like it, but I honestly can’t in good faith
recommend this book to anyone.
Meri Beckley discovers the government is censoring anything that doesn’t
align with their views. She learns of a secret organisation whose primary role
is to remind the world of the history they have forgotten, but their work
is continuously halted by secret government agents which snatch members
off the street, never to be seen again. Meri meets Atlas, whose father ran [org
name] but went missing, and takes the risk of reaching out to Meri in hopes
that her mother might’ve passed some information before her death.
The plot’s conflict was all over the place, and it doesn’t really settle
on anything. It felt somewhat stretched out to become a duology because there
is no shred of resolution that felt like the first novel was finished. This
world is ridiculously dull, and the lack of stakes just made me laugh. Nothing
really keeps you rooting for Meri, and we’re told how to feel, rather than
seeing. The book’s climax where Meri and the others spread their message all
over the city felt uninspiring. Meri is hopeless, she learns of a secret
organisation where certain words can trigger the police to come after you, but
she continues to act reckless, and we’re supposed to believe in the space of
like a week, she is suddenly a key player in this “revolution” when
she’s done nothing but cause trouble.
She’s a paper lead, with no personality, no reason or spark to root for
her. The secondary characters were so forgettable, existing for scenes where
they’re needed and quickly discarded. A love interest that I just felt terrible
for, honestly, and there was zero connection between them. I had to laugh when
they kiss in the middle of their vital life or death mission. Honestly, this
entire book was so underwhelming that nothing could really save it.
Verify is set far enough in the future that the government can easily
remove everyday words from our vocabulary to the point where no one knows how
to pronounce them. Paper usage is frowned upon and illegal to own. In this
universe, much of the world’s darkest history is erased. But the only thing
parts of history the book relies on is the Underground Railroad and WW2. I
would’ve loved to see Meri reflect on the history and what happened during
those times. But it’s very vague and doesn’t even talk about them at all.
If you’re going to use specific elements from history, the least you could do
is acknowledge them in your books, rather than being vague.
Overall, I can see what this book is trying to do, in a digital era,
information is distorted and unverified information has the potential to do
great ruin in our lives. But this entire book was unclear and not at all
enjoyable to read, which is such a shame because its premise is so important. I
don’t think this book is worth reading.
If you want to read a YA book about the power of information and censorship, I’d suggest The Great Library series by Rachel Caine. (It’s not at the forefront like Verify, and it’s more fantasy aligned)
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