Exceptional is an outstanding novel with gripping detail and characters that the reader will miss when the book is over (I'm so glad there are sequels!). Exceptional takes place in 175 AV - the time after a deadly mutant virus sweeps across the world wiping out most of the population except for two groups- those who the virus mutates into a super-human population called the Exceptional and those who were somehow genetically immune to the virus and remain normal humans - the Ordinary.
In this new world, the Exceptional race hold power over the major cities and employ Ordinary people to do their work and to keep the city running. Some Ordinaries live in the city to serve the Exceptionals, while many remain in settlements outside of the main city and serve to work the land or produce goods for the city. Ally is one of these ordinaries who lives with her mother and twin brother in the settlement and dreams of what life in the city would be like. She's heard rumors, but has never met an Ordinary who has returned from the city. In fact, of all the ordinaries who have ever volunteered to work in the city, not a single one has come back to the settlement to divulge any details of life within the city walls. Exceptional guards patrol the boarders of the city keeping each group of people within their own realm except for periodic requests for volunteers to move to the city.
Almost 18, Ally is adventurous, kind, intelligent and outgoing. She's determined to challenge herself and to complete the right of passage of jumping over the settlement boarder and then crossing back. She pauses when she seems a group of exceptional boys about her age daring to do the same thing. Is crossing the boarded a right of passage for all teens, even exceptionals? What is so alluring about the forbidden that drives them to reach for it?
While exceptionals risk little with the defiant act of crossing the boarder, ordinaries risk everything. When Ally realizes what a momentous risk she has taken, only one person can save her from dire consequences - Luke, the exceptional boy who just attempted the same act.
Luke, son of the city leader, has never before questioned the rules of the city. He obeys his stern father and trains to be the leader he was born to be. However, when he begins feeling more than he should for an ordinary girl, he starts to question the truths he's been told. Things in the city may not be all that they appear. He'll be forced to rethink everything he has ever learned and to let his most closely guarded secret be known to all in order to save the one person he can no longer live without.
Exceptional is a young adult romance which will take your breath away. The characters are well developed and likeable with realistic strengths and weaknesses. The chemistry between Ally and Luke is instantaneous and believable and suitable for all readers. This story is one of great adventure, love, loyalty, friendship, and betrayal. I can't wait to see where the series goes from here!
I listened to the audio version by Emily Durante and it is outstandingly well done. The dialogue is excellent and Emily brings the characters to life in her narration. The delivery is perfect - very clear and easy to listen to, and the audio version adds depth to an already amazing story
NARRATED BY: EMILY DURANTE
LENGTH: 7 HRS AND 5 MINS
SERIES: EXCEPTIONAL, BOOK 1
RELEASE DATE: 12/24/2014
PUBLISHER: TANTOR AUDIO