A chronicle of my time living in a zoo . . . I’m not really sure where to start, and you may have trouble believing me even as I tell you my story. My family did. They laughed the first time I told them, so now I just say it was all a crazy dream. You see, I died in a totally preventable car accident . . . or so I thought. When I opened my eyes, I was shocked to discover that I had been resurrected into the year 2282 and, just as unbelievably, was locked up in a zoo! A HUMAN ZOO! Oh wait, I mean the People’s Past Anthropological Center.
The Global Government created the Centers because all of the different cultures of the world had, over centuries of time, slowly absorbed into one uniform culture. Everything and everybody felt the same, and the world didn’t like it. So, to help the people of 2282 find cultures they thought worthy to live their lives by, they used time travel to zap the people of the past into the future. They created enclosures to house their live human exhibits. And that’s what happened to me. I became a research project, a source of entertainment. I was a prisoner who was over two hundred years away from my family and friends.
Most of my time in the enclosure was spent trying to escape. I also made friends, lost friends, fell in love, was betrayed, was held captive within captivity, and lots of other fun stuff. There were some shocking moments and some devastating moments . . . It’s a lot to recount, but I’ll try my best to tell you all about my time travel . . . PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.
I’m Emma, by the way.
When 17-year-old Emma gets into a car accident while texting, she dies, or at least something that looks like her dies. She is actually transported in time to 2282, to the People’s Past Anthropological Center–a human zoo where people saved from the brink of death in the past are kept in exhibits to educate the people of the future on past cultures. The People’s Past Anthropological Center think Emma should be grateful for just being alive–and that she should be happy to live in her enclosure. But being saved from certain death doesn’t equate to repayment by lifelong imprisonment, right?
I was really drawn in by the cover and title of this book. It’s been on my reading list for over a year, and I just now got around to reading it.
It started out great. Unfortunately, the beginning was the only truly great part; there was a ton of potential wasted on Zoo. Elizabeth took a great world concept and squandered it on poor world building. The People’s Past Anthropological Center is a really scary concept, and Elizabeth definitely made it out to be that way, but the fact that we only get one real snippet of how the world got to be so screwed up was a major deduction for me.
This plot was also incredibly predictable. All major plot developments were foreshadowed to the point that they basically had a blinking sign pointing down the path they were taking, which really killed my sense of excitement. I like to imagine all the different possibilities that a novel might take, not be handheld down the road, already knowing which way it’s going to go.
I also really struggled to relate to the characters. I started out liking Emma a lot. She was funny, snappy, and clever, but by the end, she just came off as another love-struck teenager, which is not my idea of a true heroine.
Speaking of love…hold the cheese, please. The insta-love concept is getting really overdone in dystopian novels. The romance in Zoo was really underdeveloped. James’ attack on Emma seemed like it was written in because it was necessary to fulfill a plot point (him being the wrong guy for Emma), and although it was understood that Kale and Emma would end up together, it seemed to happen way too fast to be realistic. For a girl who was supposed to be smart, Emma came off as being very naive.
Just a side note, the Notebook ending was totally unnecessary. But hey, I’m just not into mushy romance novels. What can I say?
All complaints aside, this book was engaging, and it was definitely a refreshing concept compared to a lot of the “world ended and we’re all fighting to stay alive” concepts that I’ve read over and over again. I would give this book a strong 2.5 stars, and I would probably consider reading future books in The Enclosure Chronicles, just to see how the story plays out. If you’re more into romance than I am, this definitely might be a great book for you.