Last year I was fortunate enough to read the book Consider by Kristy Acevedo (read my review here). It is a riveting tale of deception on a worldwide scale featuring a benevolent alien race with a worldwide offer of salvation from certain doom that seems too good to be true. We follow the main character, Alex, as she is caught up in struggles with her own inner demons while trying to decide whether the aliens are actually trustworthy or not. I wrote in my review last year that “you should definitely read this book.”
Since then, I’ve been waiting patiently for the sequel, Contribute. When the author announced it would be available through NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to find out what would happen next (in other words, I received an early review copy in exchange for an honest review).
Contribute picks up where Consider left off. After Alex walks through a vortex at the very last minute, she finds herself in a new alien place together with many of those that went before her. There is, however, a significant difference between them and her: they think they went through the vortex to be saved from the end of the world. Alex, of course, knows that’s a lie. Earth is fine. The question is, how can she tell them, what will their reaction be and is there even a way back to Earth?
Alex’ situation isn’t helped by the fact that their new home seems perfect. Advanced technology surrounds them and takes care of their every need. Medical equipment beyond the capabilities found on Earth eliminates sickness and disease. Their diets are well-balanced and no-one needs to work. Those that were part of the exodus from Earth can, in other words, kick back and relax. To many of her fellow citizens of Earth, it’s the utopia they’ve always wanted. Of course, if something is too good to be true, it usually is.
It doesn’t take long before it becomes evident that there is more to their new home than meets the eye (ok, sorry for the Transformers tie-in). They soon learn that to be able to continue to kick back and relax, each person must make a contribution in death: their brain. It’s voluntary…but is it really?
As Alex encounters other subversive figures who holds their own doubts about the intentions of their saviors, she has to balance her own desires against the actions that benefit the people around her. All the while she continues to battle her own insecurities and doubts. Can Alex convince those seeking an easy life that things aren’t what they appear? Will they make it back to Earth?
Contribute is a fitting sequel to Consider. The author once again takes us deep into the emotional turmoil of the main character and the distress she has to fight every day. Some days, she’s overcome. Other days, she pushes through. We get to witness the ups and downs of finding and losing loved ones and we finally see some loose ends from the first book tidied up.
Although the story is set in a technologically advanced society, the author manages to keep the science and the tech accessible. She makes it believable and effortless without expanding into the minutia of holographic technology and other futuristic concepts that appear in the story. In that sense, it makes for easy reading while you as the reader still get the sense that you’re somewhere in the future. I’ll assume that the YA target audience is partially the reason for this.
The pacing of this story is a little bit different than the first book, yet at the same time similar. In the first book, humanity had a certain amount of time to consider their choices. This book also centers around a choice, whether to contribute or not. Every person has to make a choice and then live with the consequences.
There are some odd plot aspects that stood out as I was reading. For example, the alien race is intelligent enough to realize that their treatment of their visitors from Earth isn’t entirely fair (as they’ve claimed all along) but they fail to realize that the underlying mission that is the ultimate cause of the intergalactic kidnapping is outdated. The ability of the humans from Earth to so quickly hack into the infrastructure of their technologically, advanced hosts is also a bit surprising, as is their ability to just live off of the grid. As controlling as the humans of the future are, they leave an awful lot of security holes in their infrastructure.
However, these complaints are minor and didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. Having read both books, it was very satisfying to see loose ends tied up in this book. Really, if you’re interested in reading this book, you should read Consider irst. Without reading it, you’ll miss out on a lot of the background story that is referenced throughout Contribute.
Contribute is a story that’s well worth the read and it’ll keep you glue do the book until you’re done. The book is set to be released in early July. This is good news because that gives you almost all of June to read the first book if you haven’t.