Review: Black & White by Nick Wilford

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Published: 18 September 2017

Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing

Category: Young Adult/Dystopian

What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?

In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy.

Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help?

As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Rating: 1 Star

Dystopian fiction be a fascinating genre, a look into what our world could be like if one thing goes wrong or if a chain of events leads to a horrific outcome. Young Adult Dystopian novels have been popular for a long time and while they’re not my favorite, I thought I’d give more titles from the genre a chance.

Black & White was not the good first step I had hoped it would be for several reasons, starting with the characters.

Ezmerelda, one of the main characters, felt like a bit of a smarmy person. She made incredible leaps in logic, bordering on a know-it-all personality that was insufferable. It was an annoying trait that didn’t seem to have a basis or to have been earned. Her deductions were luck. One quote in particular felt particularly silly:

“…I refuse to believe we’re the only ones who feel like this – it’d be too much of a coincidence that we’re the same age and in the same school.”

In the entire city of Whitopolis, with all of the children attending the same school, this is not that much of a coincidence and her making it seem like a grand deal had me shaking my head at how proud she acted of coming to the conclusion that it was a clue of some sort.

Wellesbury, the primary character, was a bland character that I don’t think had anything to do with the sterile whiteness of his society. I didn’t feel much personality coming from him, not even as an annoying know-it-all like Ezmerelda. Something else that was off about his character was his having knowledge throughout the story about things that he shouldn’t know, like what straw was early on when he went to Fusterbury or near the end of the novel when he knew the name of the country that Fusterbury was located in when it had never been revealed to him and he had no way of learning it on his own. These slipups in the narrative gave Wellesbury a bit of confusion to his name, but that doesn’t bulk up a personality.

I will admit that the language that Wellesbury uses to describe the things he sees in Fusterbury are accurate to what I’d think he’d use, if a little overly simplistic. He didn’t have much of an imagination; illustrating this with his brevity of word use was a good tactic on the author’s part.

For as important as Mallinger seems in the summary of the novel, the mysterious boy that appears in Whitopolis one day, he doesn’t have that much time on the page. The ultimate reveal of his character was, to me, meant as a shock factor meant to prop up an otherwise dull story because it felt like it came out of nowhere regarding a character that hadn’t done much or been around much the entirety of the story. I had no real time or opportunity to care about Mallinger, so why would the ending’s shock value have any real meaning for me?

There were other characters in the novel, such as Ezmerelda’s father and the doctor that ends up helping Wellesbury and Ezmerelda, but even the adults in the book didn’t seem to be very bright. A lot of what they did or why they did it felt like pure spur of the moment or luck. No one had meaning behind their motivation other than it being convenient to the plot at the moment. I couldn’t get behind anyone’s ideas.

As for the people of these parallel “worlds”, with the amount of surprise at the possibility of another world in Whitopolis, I was shocked at the lack of any kind of reaction from the people in Fusterbury. There didn’t seem to be any shock, any reaction to Wellesbury and Ezmerelda’s questions other than “You really aren’t from around here, are you?” No one was suspicious of these strangers, of the possibility that they harmed Mallinger; they just went along with their appearance and quest for information.

In a dystopian book, I’d expect to feel some kind of dread of the world to come, some kind of genius from the bad guys, or something to inspire from the revolutionaries aka the good guys in all the mess. Considering they were the main characters, Wellesbury and Ezmerelda were both incredibly lucky and incredibly naïve about their own revolutionary idea. I couldn’t believe they were able to get away with half of what they did with little to no repercussions in the end. I really couldn’t believe the doctor that helped them turned out to actually be truthful, or that any of the things he revealed about Whitopolis and Fusterbury. These last minute revelations felt stuffed in to extend the series, one of the worst things a book can do in my opinion.

I wasn’t pleased with the book for the above reasons nor, sadly, with the writing style either. A book with nothing happening in it besides real life can be enjoyable if the writing it gripping and the characters done well, but Black & White wasn’t able to do it for me.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

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