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Dark Parties
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Dark Parties

4.7 46
by Sara Grant

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I've lit a fuse and I'm waiting for the explosion.
All her life, sixteen-year-old Neva has lived in Homeland, completely cut off from the rest of the world.
All her life, she has been told everything beyond is an unlivable wasteland.
All this time, the government has fed her nothing but lies.
Now, Neva keeps a tattered notebook under


I've lit a fuse and I'm waiting for the explosion.
All her life, sixteen-year-old Neva has lived in Homeland, completely cut off from the rest of the world.
All her life, she has been told everything beyond is an unlivable wasteland.
All this time, the government has fed her nothing but lies.
Now, Neva keeps a tattered notebook under her mattress and fills it with the names of The Missing, those who have vanished with no explanation.
Now, she and her best friend, Sanna, plan a secret Dark Party to recruit members for their underground rebellion.
The group begins to uncover horrifying truths. But can Neva break through the secrecy that has shrouded her whole life? Or will she and her friends become part of The Missing?

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Neva is a citizen of Homeland, a small country completely enclosed by an electrified dome called the "Protectosphere." The dome was erected after the "Terror," and Neva and the rest of the population have been taught that beyond the dome is an unlivable wasteland. Homeland suffers from dwindling resources and a limited gene pool. Young people are encouraged to marry and reproduce to maintain the population. Neva and her best friend, Sanna, suspect that the government is lying, and at a "Dark Party" (the only one mentioned in the entire book), they try to rally their peers to rebellion to demand the opening of the Protectosphere. Their efforts are short-lived and have severe repercussions. Soon Sanna is added to Neva's list of The Missing, but not before Neva betrays her with bad boy Braydon, Sanna's boyfriend. Neva will have to risk all for her friend and for a chance at real romance with Braydon. Comparisons to Ally Condie's Matched (Dutton, 2010) are inevitable. Unfortunately Grant's characters, setting, suspense, and romance don't quite measure up. Fans of Condie (and Suzanne Collins) will be disappointed.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA
Publishers Weekly
Sixteen-year-old Neva lives in Homeland, a country protected by an electrified dome called the Protecto-sphere. Shut away, the population becomes more homogenous and inbred, and their resources dwindle. Neva's grandmother believed there was still life outside the dome, but she disappeared 10 years ago and now heads Neva's "List of The Missing," a roster that grows daily. At a "dark party," a gathering in total darkness, Neva and her friend Sanna incite their peers to rebel and demand the opening of the Protectosphere, but the revolution fizzles, and Neva is taken in for questioning. Assigned to a new job, Neva is determined to uncover the truth, and she learns Homeland's ugly secrets at great cost. Aside from Neva, Grant's characters don't evoke sympathy or empathy, and dystopia fans will find many recycled concepts, even harking back to Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Heavy-handed terminology and imagery (e.g., the inherent individuality of a snowflake) let down this dark examination of governmental control. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
"The heart-pounding rush of twists...will induce extreme page turning."
Library Media Connection
"With vivid imagery and realistically portrayed teen angst and emotions, Grant creates a believable, if horrifying, world peopled with interesting and well developed characters...Grant is a debut author to watch."
From the Publisher
"A quick, entertaining read."—Kirkus"

The heart-pounding rush of twists...will induce extreme page turning."—Booklist"

With vivid imagery and realistically portrayed teen angst and emotions, Grant creates a believable, if horrifying, world peopled with interesting and well developed characters...Grant is a debut author to watch."—Library Media Connection

VOYA - Paula Willey
Sixteen-year-old Neva lives under the Protectosphere, an impregnable dome constructed generations ago in response to "the Terror." Appalled by the extent to which the government controls their lives, Neva and her best friend, Sanna, initiate a tiny rebellion. The intensity and speed with which the government responds convinces Neva to continue, but she becomes increasingly isolated as her friends cave under pressure. In addition, she is falling in love with Sanna's boyfriend. When the plot shifts, which one will turn out to be the revolutionary, the informant, the betrayed idealist trying to maintain a facade in order to protect Neva? These two conflicts are given nearly equal weight in a book that seeks to mix romance, science fiction, and action but cuts so many corners; story elements lack depth. Stock characters abound: the disapproving father, the accommodating mother, the menacing secretary, the devoted boyfriend. "The government" remains a vague nemesis whose motivations seem out of proportion to its actions. Faced with a dwindling population, the government kidnaps teenage girls and impregnates them. This makes good horror, but not much sense in a world low on resources and technology. Pacing suffers too: after an initial burst of plot and a precipitous slide into the numbing horror of enforced conformity, there is a long wait before something else happens. Science fiction readers will wish for more about life under the dome, and thriller fans will find all the plot holes, but readers whose primary interest is romance may not go away disappointed. Reviewer: Paula Willey

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Dark Parties

By Grant, Sara

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2011 Grant, Sara
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316085946


I’m standing in the dark, not the gentle gray of dusk or the soft black of a moonlit night but pitch-black. My heart batters my ribs like a bird beating its wings against a glass cage. I wave my hand in front of my face. I can’t see it. I never knew it could be so dark. My edges are merging with the inky blackness around me. My dad would finally be proud of me. I’ve blended in.

Someone touches my elbow. I jump.

“I’m right here, Neva.” It’s Ethan. By my side, like always. He’s here but not here. I grope his arm, his shoulder, his neck, and touch his face. He guides my fingers to his lips and kisses them. “Follow me.” I feel his words on my thumb, his warm breath, the nudge of his lips as he forms sounds. He pulls me to the floor. Every cell in my body ignites with the thrill of possibilities. In this nothingness, anything can happen. Maybe I can find what I’ve lost with Ethan. Tangle my body with his and only feel, not think, not see.

But we all agreed: No sex. Not just tonight. No sex until we’re sure we won’t create another generation like us.

I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. I clear my mind as we crawl toward the nest of pillows we piled in one of the corners earlier this afternoon. I try not to form pictures in my head. That would defeat the whole purpose. We are supposed to be escaping in the dark, but I am a hostage to my fear. Any time the lights go out panic grabs me by the throat. My skin sweats and stings like blisters forming after a burn. I’m tired of being scared all the time.

I can do this.

I can.

I grit my teeth and try to ignore the rush of blood in my ears.

Just move.

I bump into a pair of feet. Pointy-toed boots. Braydon Bartlett. I see the red leather in my mind’s eye. That’s how I think of other people. I distill them into the defining features they have created for themselves. Braydon always wears those shoes, shiny with no creases or scuffs. All most of us have ever owned are hand-me-downs with other people’s footprints. We shouldn’t have invited him. Even though he’s got the right last name with a direct genetic line to one of our founding fathers, there’s something about him that I don’t trust. But my best friend begged me, the girl with the jagged scar, a rosy S still healing on her cheek. She told her guardians that it was an accident. But I watched her sketch the letter before she carved it permanently with the knife. She shouldn’t have done that. Anyone with an identity mark gets hassled more by the police. But that’s Sanna.

I move forward and stumble over her bare feet. She rebels against any constraints, including shoes.

“Sorry,” I say. She steps around me and whispers something to Braydon. Then I hear soft squeaks as their lips meet. I’m glad it’s dark and I don’t have to watch.

I sweep my hand back and forth across the floor. “This way,” I say to Ethan, whose hand is touching my ankle. We move together. The darkness gives us the illusion of solitude, but we’re the opposite of alone; my friends have gathered for a little experiment before we go our separate ways.

We’ve been planning this for weeks, a Dark Party. One final rebellion before we take our place as respected members of society. It was another of Sanna’s brilliant ideas. We want to discover who we are without the burden of sight. It’s easy to believe we are the same inside because we look so similar. Sanna says only in the dark can we know the truth, but I’m not sure. Darkness conceals.

Sanna wanted me to host the party. A Dark Party at the Minister of Ancient History’s house. That’s how she talked everyone into it. The greater the risk, the greater the thrill. I’ve known most of these people all my life, but they’re Sanna’s friends. They don’t trust me, never have. I’m the Minister of Ancient History’s daughter—guilt by association.

Sanna convinced everyone to pitch in. Nicoline brought black plastic bags. Ethan found towels to tuck under the doors. Sanna’s brother gave her three rolls of duct tape. We never ask how he gets the things we need.

It took us an hour to make my living room lightproof. We taped black bags to the windows. We switched off the lights. After a few seconds, our eyes adjusted, but we could see each other in shades of gray. Not good enough. We attacked every point of light and doubled the bags on the windows.

We could still see outlines, silhouettes of ourselves. The small red light on the backup generator seemed to illuminate the entire room. We unplugged everything. When I switched off the light again, there was only pure, dark, silence.

Now I hear the hum of hushed voices and the rough-and-smooth sounds that bodies make when coaxed together. Maybe we’ve made a mistake. We hoped we would find ourselves in the dark, but instead we are tempting our celibacy.

Ethan and I finally find our pillows. We lie side by side, our elbows and ankles touching, yet he feels miles away. Darkness dips its icy fingers under my skin, but I refuse to give in.

I try to erase all thoughts and images. Don’t think of the color of the pillowcases or the holes in their lace ruffles. One image—no matter how small—leads to an avalanche of pictures. First I see the living room with its worn leather couch, the fireplace and its fake flames, the bookshelves crammed with dusty volumes of our approved history. But now, as if lifted by balloon, my vision expands to include my square brick house, which blends with the dozens of similar houses in my neighborhood. As I float upward, I see the green and concrete squares of the City, which is multiplied a thousand times to create a haze of gray that is Homeland. I let the image blur and fade to black.

I shiver.

“It’s okay,” Ethan says, and slips his arms around me, which makes me colder somehow.

My eyes ache for shape and color, but the blackness surrounding me seems to have substance. I roll up on one elbow to face him. Don’t think of his name. His name conjures up the images I’m trying to escape. His skin the same color as the milky tea we drink. His ears are the same shape as my father’s. His short brown hair a confusion of waves like everyone else’s. I see myself around every corner—every minute—like living in a maze of mirrors.

My grandma told me once about a time when we were different, a long, long time ago. Stories handed down through the generations in whispers about life outside the Protectosphere. A time when we could leave and were allowed to return. I still see her every day, even though she’s long gone.

“Once upon a time, my little snowflake,” she’d say, “people were the most beautiful colors. Everyone was unique.” That word made me giggle. “But it was too hard to be different and equal.” She told me fantastic tales of wars caused by differences—different religions, different cultures, different skin colors. “We shut ourselves off. Now each generation grows more alike.” Grandma was breaking one of the government’s many unwritten rules. There’s officially nothing before The Terror and the sealing of the Protectosphere and nothing outside it. She made me promise not to repeat her stories.

“What can it hurt, telling me?” I’d snuggled in closer. She’d stroked my hair.

“You’re different.” Her words tickled my ear; she always spoke them so close, as if they were a secret prophecy.

I’m the only one who remembers her. One day she was tucking me in and the next day every trace of her was gone. Not even her son, my dad, will speak her name.

“Neva,” Ethan whispers, and brings me back to the present. I lie my head on his chest and I hear the steady thump thump of his heart—a rhythm I know well. Sanna and I have begged him to create an identity mark, but he says he can’t. My mark is still healing, red and raw from hundreds of pinpricks. Sanna helped me etch it into the valley between my stomach and hip. A small snowflake falling toward my pubic hair.

He gently rolls me on my back and lies on top of me. We kiss as if choreographed. I realize I am tensing the muscles in my arms and drawing him closer and closer. I urge my body to respond like it used to. We linger here in this timeless place. Ethan’s hands race over my body. His breath comes in short, sharp pants. He fumbles and I pretend I still love him. In this void, I feel even more alone.

Someone clears their throat. It’s Sanna. I know it is. A new panic flashes through me. She’s really going through with it. We talked about it for weeks. This secret scheming is what’s kept us sane, but it’s not like skipping school or dying our beige graduation robes pink. The government could erase us—like her dad and my grandma—for unpatriotic acts. I’ve got to stop her. I sit up, knocking heads with Ethan.

“Ouch,” he says, and then lowers his voice. “What’s going on?”

“Sorry, Ethan.” I need to find Sanna. We were wrong about finding ourselves in the dark. Maybe we are wrong to believe we can change anything. “I’ll be right back.” I stand and shuffle forward. I am lost. The darkness provides no orientation. Up could be down, left could be right. My chest tightens. The dark closes in. I struggle to breathe.

“Can I have your attention?” Sanna asks. I’m too late. My body pulses with the pounding of my heart. “Sorry to interrupt whatever I’m interrupting.” Her voice is soft and apologetic as if she’s trying to disguise it. “I’ve got something to say.” We agreed she would be the one to talk. It’s hard enough for me to be in the dark, and I am taking a big enough risk hosting the party. My dad would freak if he knew. He disapproves of anything that even hints that Homeland isn’t perfect. Mom promised to keep Dad out late tonight. She thinks my party is for celebrating our graduation. I haven’t told her about our plans. I haven’t told anyone.

“We’re sixteen.” Sanna pauses and everyone cheers. The weight of what we are doing overwhelms me. “They tell us, we are adults now.” I concentrate on Sanna and try to calm down. I notice a slight tremor in her voice. “It’s time we make a stand.” We expected cheers at this point, but the room is deathly quiet. “Okay then,” she seems to say to herself. There’s a long silence.

“The Protectosphere is killing us,” Sanna blurts.

Someone gasps. No one says things like that out loud. Her words hang in the air like crystals searching for sunshine. “We all know it. The government is squashing our future. Fewer choices. Fewer resources. They keep us trapped with their lies about what’s outside. We have to do something.”

My heart swells, I’m so proud of her. If only I was as brave.

Sanna continues, “Stay, if you want to join us and demand they open the Protectosphere. We deserve to know what’s outside. We deserve a future.”

My grandma believed there was still life outside the Protectosphere. Knowing there’s something beyond our electrified dome is like my faith in life after death. I want desperately to believe it.

“If you don’t want to join us, you should leave now.” We hoped the anonymity of the dark would be enough, but now I feel exposed. “Even if you don’t want to join us—and it’s totally legit if you can’t or won’t—I’m trusting that you’ll keep your traps shut.”

I hear someone moving. I wait for them to pass, but they don’t. I wave my arms in front of me like a blind man without a cane. Our outstretched fingertips touch, and the person walks right into my arms. I think it might be Ethan, until fingers gently trace the line of my necklace and pause at the snowflake pendant that rests between my breasts. A hand cups my neck and tilts my head ever so slightly. I am being kissed, not soft and sweet like Ethan’s kisses. This kiss is insistent and passionate. He slips strong arms around me. Our bodies mold together. My body aches in a way I’ve never felt before. I try to pull away, but his kisses don’t relent. He holds me tighter. I wrap my arms around this stranger. I kiss him until I’m breathless. I have never felt so alive. I should stop, but I kiss him again and again.

Bodies are bumping into us. People are leaving, but I don’t care. For the first time in a long time, I feel as if my life could be different; I could be different. I hesitate before I release him. My knees are weak. I melt to the floor.

As he passes, his foot brushes my hand. I feel the unmistakable smooth leather and shape of Braydon’s boots.

I touch my lips. Braydon?

The alarm clock buzzes to signal the end of our party. Sanna turns on the lights as planned. I am blinded momentarily. The room is nearly empty; less than a dozen people squint nervously at one another.

Braydon is hugging Sanna. He glances at me. I look away. Why was he kissing a stranger in the dark? Does he know it was me?

I look for Ethan, but he is gone. I hoped he would stay. But it was too much to ask of this Ethan. The old Ethan would have stood by me. But this Ethan’s given up, given in to our government-sanctioned future.

Sanna tells our ragtag group of revolutionaries where and when to meet tomorrow.

I feel as if the light has stripped me bare and everyone is staring at the betrayal etched on my skin. I’ve betrayed my dad, my best friend, and Ethan.

“You better go before my parents get home,” I say, and look anywhere but at Braydon.

A darkness is growing inside me now.


Excerpted from Dark Parties by Grant, Sara Copyright © 2011 by Grant, Sara. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Sara Grant was born in a small town in Indiana. She graduated from Indiana University and has a master's degree in creative and life writing from Goldsmiths, University of London. She lives in London with her British husband.

Dark Parties was written while Sara cruised along the snowy Norwegian fjords, traveled on trains through England, and flew across the Atlantic to see her family and friends, but mostly while she curled up on her sofa, wearing her favorite James Taylor concert T-shirt. This is her first novel. Sara's website is www.sara-grant.com.

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Dark Parties 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
ReadergirlReviews More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting dystopian compared to others I've read in the past. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to like it, and I'm still not entirely sure. I love the premise of a society stuck beneath a protectosphere where they are told the outside world no longer exists. I also like the fact that some teenagers are figuring out that perhaps things aren't exactly what they seem. It seems that teenagers, who often strain against any form of protection or stricture, would find this type of society to be extremely confining, and so it did make sense to me that they would be the ones leading others in a form of quiet rebellion to figure a way out of that confinement. Neva's pursuit of truth leads her into a place where she can glean some answers, but someone she has always trusted seems to be neck deep in perpetuating the lie the government has been feeding people. This gives her lots of conflict to deal with, and I really did like this aspect of the story. It's always hard to reconcile things when someone you've always loved and trusted is appearing to be the bad guy. One part I was a little disappointed with was the romantic element. I felt like the attraction here was just a little too instant, and very underdeveloped. And yet, they seem to kind of pine for each other throughout the story with very little back up why. I wanted to see a few more scenes with these two together. I wanted a little bit more of a build up and just a teensy bit more focus on this aspect of the story. I was also a little disappointed in the end, as so much was up in the air. Please let this be a series, because if that was the end for a stand alone novel, I'd be very disappointed for sure. As it is, the final events seem to be leading to a sequel where I hope the pieces that have been left dangling will be worked out. All in all, this was a good, suspenseful read, and I will definitely be looking out for a sequel.
bookittyblog More than 1 year ago
From page 1 to page 308 my reaction to Dark Parties was:WOW!! This book was amazing and full of action. Romance in this novel wasn't theauthor's main priority and I was glad for that. Sometimes authors worry so much aboutdeveloping the characters romantic relationship that at the end, the story doesn't develop or it feels a little rushed. But Sara Grant balances plot and romance beautifullyand the reader doesn't feel like there is something missing or rushed. Kind oflike Katniss and Peeta from the Hunger Games were you know they have feelingsfor each other but their main priority is to stay alive. Neva's main priority isto find out what's outside the Protectosphere, everything else comes in second place. DarkParties was perfect.
lovestoreadST More than 1 year ago
Dark Parties was a real page turner. I couldn't put it down! You will love Neva! It is a most thought-provoking book! I can't wait to see more from this author!
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Hey r u still there.
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Is back
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Hi haha *blushes*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sssoo... watxha doin?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Princess haley bday party at ocean kingdom res1
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi. I am 14 years old and looking to chat with others:)
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Wat drama
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Bye bye bye
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Res two
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Hi looking for blaine
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Hey are you the other jake that turned 16 on jake diamonds b-day? Jw
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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