Teenager Shiloh lives at Haven Hospital and Halls where she and others like her are protected from the dangers of the world. They are Terminals and one day they will die from the Disease, but the Hospital keeps them protected, happy, and healthy for as long as they can. While Shiloh realizes that her world is different than that of the Whole, she struggles to deal with her friend Amelia’s new outlook of their stay in the Hospital and their ability to one day be Whole.
This easily could have been yet another dystopian YA novel, but it manages to elevate itself above the tropes and cliches that have begun to litter the book stores’ shelves. There are hallmarks of the genre – regimented schedules, little free agency or choice, and a repressive regime. However, The Haven manages to be creepy and thrilling in its short 200 + pages, and Williams manages to yet again provide deep, well-rounded characters with fewer words. Watching Shiloh and her transition as she begins to listen to Amelia, for instance, is fascinating as she fights the change and yet fights for her personal change as well. Not since Matched have I seen a character who felt so realistic for having been raised in their society.
I did feel that the beginning of the book took some getting used to to really understand what was going on, and once the reveal came I had already begun to guess at what the twist to Shiloh’s story might be. That does not lessen the reveal in any way, though. I loved seeing how Williams took an idea that is not new and yet made it completely her own, original, and utterly terrifying in how easily we could slip into that way of thinking in the near future.
That is perhaps what is most chilling about The Haven – the realism. While I do not want to give away the end of Shiloh’s story, Williams manages to bring up some complicated moral issues and questions that are possibly in the immediate future for the human race. And once we begin to chip at those walls, how far will we go for our own selfish interests?
If you are looking for a new dystopian YA thriller that doesn’t involve love triangles, battles, or the tired plot lines from other books, give The Haven a read. It’s fast-paced enough that you won’t be able to put it down until you’re done.
Read The Haven: A Novel