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No One Expects The Spanish Influenza

Elizabeth Fama’s Plus One imagines a world divided, quite literally, by night and day.

No One Expects The Spanish Influenza

BOOK REPORT for Plus One (Plus One #1) by Elizabeth Fama

Cover Story: Oh My Gods
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Alternate History
Bonus Factors: Notes, Not a Series
Relationship Status: Third Wheel

Cover Story: Oh My Gods

All I see when I look at this cover is two deities making out. There’s a creation myth in there somewhere.

The Deal:

In 1918, when a flu pandemic was wreaking havoc around the world, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson decided to divide America’s population into two shifts—Day and Night—to better research and combat the disease. The division worked so well beyond just eradicating the flu that Wilson made the divide permanent, and many countries around the world followed suit.

Most humans now live according to their status. Rays are allowed to live and work during the day, and Smudges are forced to live their lives during the night. Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge, and she’d be fine with the situation if it wasn’t for the fact that her brother, a Ray, has just had a baby. And that Sol’s grandfather, the man who raised her and her brother, is dying.

Sol is heartbroken that he’ll never be able to meet his great-grandaughter, and so hatches a crazy plan to “borrow” her niece to ease some of her grandfather’s pain.

BFF Charm: Eventually

I admire Sol’s dedication to her family, but not being a member of said unit, I don’t know that she’d be very nice to me. She’s abrasive and standoffish and doesn’t attempt to filter what comes out of her mouth. I actually adore her all the more for it, but again, I would be afraid to tell her lest she bite my head off.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

For all her rough around the edges-ness, Sol has a huge heart. It shows when she’s talking about her grandfather, and when she reveals that she had a months-long “relationship” through drawings on a school desk. Passing notes is a personal favorite courtship ritual, so this totally upped the swoon for me.

Talky Talk: Alternate History

I’m not entirely sure in what year Plus One is set. Even with the references to historical events, the story seemed a little out of time. Although some readers might be frustrated with not knowing when, exactly, it was taking place, I personally felt that this ambiguity added to the unique worldbuilding Elizabeth Fama wove into the story. The idea of a divided society isn’t new, but I liked how Fama used a real-life situation to slightly (and mostly believably) alter the path of American history.

Her characters also felt real, particularly because of their flaws. The conspiracy at the heart of the book left a little something to be desired, but it didn’t detract from the story as a whole.

Bonus Factor: Notes

As someone who went to high school before the proliferation of cell phones, I used to pass a lot of notes. I passed them to friends, to crushes, to boyfriends. In fact, I passed so many of them to my now husband that we used snippets from the ones in which we first professed our love for each other in our wedding.

I also had a similar situation to Sol in which I passed notes hidden under an aquarium in Mrs. Bodily’s Biology class (not kidding about her name) to a guy who sat in the same seat during a different period. We never had a real relationship or anything, and neither of us was as good of an artist as Sol or her unidentifed partner were, but it was an absolute blast coming to class and finding that secret note, written just for me.

Bonus Factor: Not a Series

Although Goodreads says Plus One is a #1, I think it’s only labeled that way because there’s a prequel novella that’s lableled #0.5. As far as I can tell, Plus One is a standalone.

Casting Call:

Brittany Curran as Sol

Relationship Status: Third Wheel

As much as I enjoyed our time together, Book, I felt a little like a third wheel by the end. I wish you all the happiness you deserve, and look forward to reading about what you’re up to in your holiday newsletter.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Plus One is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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