Contributor by Nicole Ciacchella

19540832Published January 2nd 2014 (first published January 1st 2012)

I feel bad for not liking Contributors. I think the author had some good ideas, but the problem is that this isn’t a dystopia and Dara has no reason to go against the government. She kind of does, I guess, but it felt more like the only reason why she went against Magnum was because she was finding her apprenticeship hard and that her mom was sick.

Considering she grew up as a straight A student, suffering her first set of hardships made her go from sad to GET VENGEANCE NOW! The transition didn’t make much sense and made me feel like she was a very entitled and spoiled. She thought the apprenticeship was hard and didn’t like the competition, so she starts to dislike the system. Her mom gets into an accident and doesn’t get better so she starts to hate the system. This is normal behaviour, kind of…but I think, but if you grew up in a ‘dystopian’ world where you’re constantly told that the government is the best and that you shouldn’t think differently, you wouldn’t see a change like this happen so quickly. They might doubt the world, but it would take awhile for them to fully understand why it is so bad. I think Ciacchella did try to show that, but it didn’t work here.

Then again, this dystopian seems more like a communist society in domes. Apparently something happened and it killed most of the plants in the world, so now societies live in domes. The government, Job Creators, saved everyone (I’m not sure how) and now everyone does jobs that is best suited for them. If you cross them, you’re exiled into the Wasteland. If you are suspicious with your activity, then they encourage others to spy and rat you out. However, for the most part everyone follows what they’re supposed to do and live a life of blandness. I wish I could mention more about this world, but we never really see much of the world in Contributor. We don’t really see anything other than Dara and her experiment, which isn’t really explained much since I still don’t know what exactly she does, and her life at home.

There is a bit of romance which I feel fell short. Jonathon is the perfect understanding boyfriend to Dara and Dara seems mostly indifferent to him. We never really get a sense of who Jonathan is outside of Dara. What his home life is or what he does is a complete mystery. All we know is that he’s loyal to Magnum and Dara doesn’t like that. I think at one point she complains that he chooses his way of life and the government over her. This annoyed me, because at this point he really has no reason to distrust the government. Neither does Dara really. Her motivation to go against the system still doesn’t make sense to me. I know I already talked about this, but I’m still trying to figure out why she hates Anderson, the Head Engineer and her boss, and the government.

However, I think the biggest problem in this novel is the writing. It’s written in third person and I feel like this didn’t work here. I never felt connected to any of the characters, they all felt cold to me and more importantly they never popped. It almost felt like I was watching pieces move, but never people. Sure the characters would do and say things, but I never felt like any of it was true to them. This might be why I didn’t understand Dara’s transition to loving the Job Creators to hating them and why nothing in this novel really worked for me. There’s also a lot of showing and not telling in this novel, which hurt it as well.

It’s a shame too, because I do like the cover and like the idea of this story. I’ll probably read the next book in the series to see what happens. Infiltrator seems to talk more about the world, so I kind of want to see how this place is a dystopia, because so far I don’t really see or understand it.

Overall: I think this book could have been better, loads better. All it needed was better writing and more world building so that it truly felt like a dystopia, which is how it’s marketed as, and not just a regular communist society. I wanted to know why things are the way they are and we never got that. Plus, the characters are all one note and never stray far from the role they are given. Even though this book is meant to be about Dara’s journey and growth, it never feels like it because her convictions stem from entitlement and not from the realization that her world is a lie. Her hatred is superficial and to then risk your entire life for that just seems odd to me.

Random Note: Considering how everyone lives in Domes, I wonder why the Job Creators haven’t set up security cameras in people’s homes to make sure no one is falling out of line. That would make them extra scary, because they’re constantly watching and make sure people watch as well.

Contributor was provided by netgalley.

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