In this young-reader’s dystopian novel, the cost of immortality is abuse, seclusion, and oppression. “Pales,” or those who are given the Lazarus Serum and are resurrected soon after death, stand out because of their colorless skin and eyes. When Jed dies suddenly and is given the Serum without his consent, his perspective on these lesser members of society changes. With a plot that’s really more about bullying and abuse than immortality, this short book is simple enough for lower-grades and quick enough to retain their interest.
In this short novel, you’ll find very little about the actual serum or its moral implications, or who gets it or why people WOULD choose to get it, knowing that if they do, they’ll be social outcasts. In fact, when Jed gets it, the decision is made by his girlfriend, rather than a legal guardian or other family member, which seems a bit odd. There’s one chapter devoted entirely to why people don’t like “Pales,” but the way it’s presented is overly simplified. There’s little other information given about the “world” of this novel and how things have changed because of the Serum. The tunnel-vision of this short novel focuses only on Jed and his particular situation. In addition to its rather simplistic view, the characters are rather simplistic as well, which may be effective for young readers, but those used to reading other novels of this genre will likely find the characters rather flat.
Overall, I think this book “Pale”d in comparison to what I would have liked it to be. The plot works fine as a short story, but there was so much potential for a great novel, and I really found myself wanting to know more about what was going on in the rest of the world and what led up to the events of this story, as well as what happens afterward. The bullying/prejudice storyline works, but frankly, wasn’t really what I was looking for when I picked this up.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own!