Review: Mayfly by Jeff Sweat

Author: Jeff Sweat
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Pages: 356
Format: Galley/NetGalley

Jemma has spent her life scavenging tools and supplies for her tribe in the their small enclave outside what used to be a big city. Now she’s a teen, and old enough to become a Mama. Making babies is how her people survive—in Jemma’s world, life ends at age seventeen.

Survival has eclipsed love ever since the Parents died of a mysterious plague. But Jemma’s connection to a boy named Apple is stronger than her duty as a Mama. Forced to leave, Jemma and Apple are joined in exile by a mysterious boy who claims to know what is causing them to die. The world is crumbling around them, and their time is running out. Is this truly the End?

Review: I thought this was a unique take on a YA dystopian book. In this world, all the adults are gone. You die at 17 and the only way to keep the population going is to have babies around 15. I thought it was interesting to see a book from a the view of a world run by kids pretty much. It's been over 100 years since the parents died we learn. Which means somewhere around 9 or 10 generations have now passed with the children ruling everything. And we really get to realistically see how that has affected things. We see a lot of language loss. You kinda have to get used to the language they use in this because its not completely what we use. A lot of words are simplified down or changed. Instead of Hollywood, it's been simplified to Holy Wood. Instead of LA (Los Angeles), it's now Ell Aye. Words we think are pretty normal and simple are hard to pronounce or just aren't used, such as scientist, or motorcycle (which is mocycle now). This is definitely in part because of the fact no one learns to read anymore. This breakdown of language is something that really could happen over a period of time like this. 

There's also the fact that if your brain matures into adult thinking earlier than 17, it can kill you sooner. It's hard to live in a world that being smart or growing up kills you. The only people that seem to live longer are those that get brain damage and their brain stops maturing. Because of this, people seem bent on survival. Everything in the Holy Wood is about "rolling with boys" aka sex and making babies so people live on. Even if some of the girls don't want to, they are heavily persuaded into it for population reasons. This type of thinking has taken over so much that the girls are in charge and literally keep boys around mostly for being dads. If they try to do anything that seems like they are trying to get too much power, they are killed or exiled. What's even worse is that the girls in charge also will let some boys get away with rape if it means another baby. And in other groups in Ell Aye, some of the people have just let survival and the madness over dying take over that they no longer think straight. Things have just gone to hell and these kids don't know how to do anything but survive until they die.

I definitely grew attached to our characters. I really loved Jemma and Apple. I loved the relationship these two had. Love is pretty much a thing of the past since making babies is more important, but these two managed to find it in all the chaos. I also genuinely liked Lady. She annoyed me at first just constantly obsessing over "rolling" and wanting to be a mama. And even trying to go back to the Holy Wood after what happened to her there and knowing she didn't have people to turn to after it. But I started liking her more when she tried going back, leaving Jemma and Apple and then realizing she had nothing to go back to. She realized the people she cared about weren't in Holy Wood, they were right beside her getting out of that place and protecting her. She started acting a bit smarter, wanting to help get further away and wanting to find out more about "the end" and what caused it. She starts thinking more about if they can find a way to live past it and less about rolling and making babies. I also liked "Teek," the exile. He was willing to show and use his intelligence if it meant finding a way to try and live past the end. I love that even though he seemed shifty when we first met him, it was actually because of him hiding that he can read and is actually pretty smart. So he's only trying to hide what could get him killed or kicked out again. He's actually a cool guy. 

What I didn't like is the fact the first almost half of the book is mainly about "rolling." We genuinely get that in order to keep the population going, people had to have babies. But it was just constantly talked about in almost every chapter up until our characters leave Holy Wood. It got really repetitive and old after reading it for so long. The other thing I didn't enjoy so much was the end. Our group finally makes it down near San Diego to try and find who caused everything and the entire scene with the scientist takes place in the last 5% of the book. It felt rushed just squeezing it in that small section and there could have been more explanation of things both about the end and how they could try to fix it had it not been squeezed in that small bit. We get pretty much a quick explanation that the end involved nano-tech gone wrong and that Jemma could be a part of fixing it with her connection to the haze. However, I'm hoping we'll get a sequel that will conquer this trying to stop the ending. 

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