{Blog Tour} Review + Giveaway: The Polaris Uprising by Jennifer Ibarra

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Polaris Uprising (Polaris, #1)
Title: The Polaris Uprising (Polaris #1)
Author: Jennifer Ibarra
Publisher: Tiwala Books
Date of Publication: October 20, 2013
Genre: YA dystopia

In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.

The only price they pay is their free will.

Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.

Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours and Jennifer Ibarra for the review copy! This in no way affected my views of the novel.

It has been a while since the last time I've read a dystopian novel and I don't even know if I still love the genre as much as I did before. So I have to thank The Polaris Uprising and Jennifer Ibarra for taking that doubt away because I can still roaringly say that "DYSTOPIA ROCKS!".

The Polaris Uprising started out a bit slow and while its writing was good, it didn't captivate me immediately. Maybe it's because the author spent time with character introduction and world building and it's written in the third person point-of-view. It's not exactly my favorite perspective. But the set-up and characters were interesting enough so I continued reading.

Neress is a country ravaged by war and brought back into order by Ryla Jensen's father, the President. In exchange for providing for the citizens, their free will was taken away from them. Every choice has been made for them and while some are thanking the President for everything that he has done the past three decades in making their country rise up from the ashes, there are still a lot of people not happy with it, primarily the Polaris Movement. Ryla's as naive and sheltered as can be, which kind of reminded me of Natalie in Elizabeth Richard's Black City. She has always seen everything from the inside and has been oblivious to how people suffer on the outside and how her father hasn't been the glorified hero and leader she thinks he is. It took a boy (of course it's a boy HEE) and her father including her in government meetings (she is geared up to succeed him) to open her eyes to the cruelties of her father's regime. Sounds like your run-of-the-mill dystopia, right? Yes, I do admit that but here are the reasons why The Polaris Uprising should be read and not glossed over as "just another dystopian novel". (And I couldn't resist making a list review!)

1. Family-centric. Sure, there is romance as after all, Tyson was the one who opened Ryla's eyes to the world around her. But see, it was never the focus. The focus was Ryla and her older sister Alanna. Alanna's turning twenty-five and getting married to Owen, who she loves and who loves her. Not everyone is as lucky as Alanna to be in love with their genetic match. Alanna and Owen's love story was also explored but still, romance wasn't the main foothold of the book. It was always Ryla and Alanna's sisterhood and how vast their differences is. Their personality, their beliefs, everything. They love each other so much but here comes THE question: Which has more weight? Love or principles? Love or your beliefs?

That was what made me in awe of The Polaris Uprising. It's not just about going against the government. It is going against the one person you love the most, the one person you can't live without. And it's not a lover but it's family. A sister. Good lord, Jennifer, you certainly know how to twist me.

2. Romance. I know, I just said it wasn't romance-centric. It has a lot of scenes dedicated to Ryla and Tyson and Alanna and Owen but these just served as another plot arcs. Even still, they were grin-inducing and heart-flutter-inducing. I didn't know when it happened but I just got so invested in each of the couple, it took me by surprise. Sure, Ryla and Tyson's development were a bit fast but hey, you can always be attracted and you can always care for a person. Alanna and Owen's were a bit a-long-time-making so when the fruits of that seesawing were reaped, it was cute and sweet.

3. The ideologies. I touched upon this a bit with Reason #1 but I'll talk a bit more about it here. It always boils down to this: equality or freedom? If you yearn for equality, you can never be free. And if you want to be free, there can never be equality. A perfect society only exists in theory, if the ones that make it are not humans. Alas, we are humans and the human nature is a savage beast tamed by social conventions and culture. Oh yes, I know my social science courses will pay off someday. (Disclaimer: I do believe in the innate good of people but I also believe in the innate evil, or more like selfishness or survival instincts, in us.) Ryla's father chose equality for his nation - no one will starve and everyone will be provided for - but in return, they couldn't choose who they'll marry or what their careers will be. There's bound to be dissent in every government, however close it might be to the perfect society, because humans always wish for what they don't have. ANYWAY, my point is, this book isn't just for young adults. It can be for all ages because it will certainly make you think. I read books for entertainment but when it can give me an intellectual discussion I'd likely tackle with only myself, it just makes me even happier.

And lastly...

4. THE ENDING. Or better yet, the better half of the novel with all the deaths (Gasp! Don't be angry at me, that is not a spoiler. It is a dystopian novel after all.) and the action and the EVERYTHING. I've never read anything like The Polaris Uprising with regards to the set-up in the revolution in dystopians and I just applaud Jennifer Ibarra for it.

So Jennifer Ibarra, JOB WELL DONE! I am eagerly awaiting the sequel because this story demands to be told. I do hope you'd still stir the social scientist in me with all the thoughts on government and society.

Just look up in the sky and find the brightest star and that's where I'll be looking too

About Jennifer Ibarra

Jennifer Ibarra grew up on a steady diet of books, Star Wars, and other fantastic feats of the imagination. Her debut novel, The Polaris Uprising, is the first book in a trilogy and mixes dystopia with family drama, romance, and political intrigue.

She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.


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  1. I think this is the first dystopian novel I've heard that is told in a 3rd person POV. I love your #1 reason. Family-centric novels, no matter what genre they are, are a sure win.. or most of them are. Glad to see a positive review after the "that's so long!" talk we had yesterday. Haha! I kinda thought it would be dragging and full of unnecessary parts.

    1. Me too. Well, I've read some before but it is definitely not my favorite POV but when it works, it works. Yeah, I thought I wouldn't be able to finish this book because wow, it was so long! But it kept me reading and as you've read in my review, it was pretty great. Thanks for commenting, Charlie!


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