Title: The Artful
Author: Wilbert Stanton
Published: May 26, 2014
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.
Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.
On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.
*Thanks to the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for the free review copy via Netgalley.*
Possible Spoilers of a Minor Nature
The Artful by Wilbert Stanton has become one of my favorite books of the year so far. It features as it’s main characters Twist and Dodger, two thieves who call themselves the ‘Gutter Punks’ and act like a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood. They take medicine from the privileged Tower Babies and give it to the poor, who are forced to live on the streets. Its set in Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2025, anyone who is still around is unable to tolerate the sun’s rays and burn much to easily without shelter and protection. The story picks up when the two boys rescue a girl named Gia and Dodger is injected with a lethal virus only their enemies have the cure to. They’ll have mere days to take back something their other friend stole before Dodger dies a painful death.
Twist was by far my favorite character. Unlike so many scores of YA main characters, he not only saw his flaws but also embraced them. He didn’t whine and moan about his imperfections and he didn’t over or under look them to any extreme. They were simply there and a fact of life.
He also really grew as a main character. In the beginning he resented the fact that everyone thought he was Dodger’s shadow, but it was sort of true, by the end he realized his own strength. He neither needed or wanted Dodger’s assistance because he had become his own person, Dodger’s illness really forced him to see his potential as it was.
One of the things I love about YA books with male main characters is the lack of drama. In particular girl type drama, evil in the clever disguise of words when it’s overused, so I also appreciated how there were no real frivolous type problems in the book. All of the issues the main characters faced were realistic and understandable. It was a lovable novel about the true pains of survival in a futuristic world that has been destroyed through something realistic. But some things still got on my nerves. Whenever Dodger and Twist were separated, Dodger would tell Twist what happened to him while he was gone. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but everything Dodger said during those times was a big block of text that told what happened just about word for word with no details omitted. Too many words were used at these times and it happened all at once, leaving the reader with no question as to what happened to Dodger during those times. It got to be quite annoying. Not to mention the whole mystery surrounding why Dodger was sick was too easily fixed, even though the characters had trouble reaching a conclusion it all seemed a bit too simplified by the end.
Although not everything about the book pleased me, The Artful was a pretty enjoyable read which I would recommend to dystopian lovers. In particular those who enjoyed Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens, some aspects of it really reminded me of that.