Rising Up – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.75 / 5 stars)

 Welcome to Tranquility. Here, everyone is happy. 

Or so it seems.

With the death of her mother, Ember Vinata’s life is turned upside-down. Suddenly battling an emotional crisis, Ember is placed on the watchlist by the city. But there is more to Ember than meets the eye; highly empathetic, she is forced to monitor her emotions while perceiving everyone else’s. Can she keep herself in control as her world is flipped upside down? Or will it threaten her safety?

Meanwhile, Will is enjoying his new “heroic” life as a Plauditor – a peacekeeper of emotions. Upon meeting Ember though, he begins to questions his own role in Tranquility: is their “happiness” real? Is there something “evil” afoot? And when a rebellion takes root in the center of the government, led by Xander, can Will stay loyal to the city he vowed to protect, or will he choose to fight for the greater good?

Rising Up by Tanya Ross is a dystopian world riddled by false happiness. It doesn’t seem that far off really: everyone wearing smart watches that monitor their emotion, placed into a hierarchy based on how “obedient” and “calm” they are, with a government keeping firm control. It’s a fascinating concept, and one that I fell in love with immediately.

The concept as a whole is a very strong one. I could feel the dystopian world merely steps away, and part of me sensed the stress all the main characters went through. Ross’s ability to play on emotions is a strength here. Tranquility is not “tranquil”; it’s stressful, filled with fake happiness, the type that rubs off on the reader, and when they lift their head from the page, 

As much as I loved the concept though, some parts of the story’s execution didn’t work for me. It “told” rather than “showed” too much in the beginning, in a way that felt like ongoing exposition. Some of the dialogue between characters, as well as some of their physical actions and decisions, felt a little flat or strange, not quite how teenagers would behave. This might be due in part to their trained emotions, so they don’t quite behave like the teenagers of today. Also, as with a lot of YA stories, I’m always left wondering: what about the adults. These are a bunch of 16-18 year old kids leading change, which is admirable, but what about any of the adult figures who might join them? 

This of course is an issue with the genre, and not necessarily with the book though. I’ve found that, personally, I’m not a big fan of the common YA tropes (love triangles, 2-guys-1-girl situations, teenagers leading rebellion, the “super unique beautiful girl”), but for the most part Ross has executed these well (although I hope we avoid a love triangle in book 2). As I discovered while reading Rising Up, YA Dystopian is not my favorite genre…but it IS the genre that pulls me in. So will I stop reading? Nope! Even though it’s not my all time favorite, there are so many good things about the genre, and Ross has brought to life many of those in her novel.

I absolute cannot wait for the sequel and definitely recommend it to those who like YA Dystopian. Definitely an interesting concept…and worth the read! 

What’s it about?

A city under glass. A girl under pressure. When secrets come out, which one will break first?

Sixteen-year-old empath Ember Vinata is devastated by her mother’s mysterious death. But in a disease-free domed metropolis where happiness is electronically monitored and enforced, expressing her grief means exile to The Outside.

The only person who can help her is a smoking-hot government agent.

When strange prophetic dreams compel her to investigate, and she discovers the source of the fatal illness, Ember is stunned to discover the perfect city in which she lives is nothing like it seems.  And when her new boyfriend appears to be torn between seeking justice and remaining loyal to his oaths, she fears there is no one she can trust…

…Or would her world be rocked by a criminal from The Outside?

Ember’s quest for the truth could set her free – or make her a captive pawn.

Rising Up is the thrilling first book in The Tranquility YA dystopian sci-fi series. If you like determined heroines, the power of emotions, and fighting injustice, then you’ll love Tanya Ross’s raw crusade.

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