Title: The Bodies We Wear
Author: Jeyn Roberts
No. of Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Origins: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 23 September 2014
Bottom Line: Thought-provoking
“People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.
Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye’s plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she’s become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?”
Thoughts: Set in an indeterminate city in an undefined time, The Bodies We Wear is the story of Faye. A victim of a horrible crime, Faye is still suffering the consequences. For, in Faye’s world, taking the drug Heam is more heinous than anything else one can do. It might be the drug that allows people to see heaven, but the reality of its aftereffects are nothing short of hell on earth – something Faye experiences firsthand.
Marked forever as a Heam abuser, Faye must conquer unimaginable prejudice. The one normal thing about her life is high school, but even then the rules that allow her to attend require her to isolate herself from her peers. The only saving grace in her life is her guardian Gazer and the mysterious Chael. Bent on revenge against those who ruined her life, both Gazer and Chael try to show her that revenge is not the answer. Faye’s life does not spiral out of control, but her path is on a collision course with fate. It is her journey towards the culmination of her desires that readers get to experience. Some will condemn her, others will support her. All readers will have an opinion on Faye’s actions, desires, and ultimate solution.
While the story itself may be a tad predictable, there are certain elements which allow readers to overlook that issue. For one, the drug Heam is intriguing. The science behind it is nonexistent, but its backstory is fully developed and integrated into the storyline. For one drug to cause so much furor, especially when drug use has always been rampant, is an unusual idea and leads to questions Ms. Roberts tries to answer but her answers only lead to more questions. Then, there is the faith issue at the heart of Heam. Again, there are no good answers, only many questions, but the lack of answers ultimately forces readers to decide for themselves.
Prejudice, love, redemption, and faith are the main tenets of The Bodies We Wear. There is a romance to it, which is poignant and beautiful, but it is Faye’s history and how she has handled that to date that really makes a reader stop and ponder some of the discussions within the novel. Faye is tough and is not afraid to tell it like it is; however, her sense of fatalism, while understandable, tends to wear on a reader’s patience. The story’s rapid pacing towards the end is unsatisfying even though anything else would feel too drawn-out and unnecessary. It is a story that leaves a reader hopeful but with an unsettled understanding that the world is not the greatest of places. The Bodies We Wear is not a book readers will love and about which will gush profusely. Rather, it is the type of novel that readers will enjoy and move on to the next book, only to find one dwelling on certain elements of the story at a much later date. Some books do take time to marinate within a reader’s mind, and Jeyn Roberts’ latest is just one example.