Persona is a YA eco-techno political thriller which also caters for fans of dystopian fiction. Despite featuring the said variety of themes, Persona delivers on all fronts and is a refreshing reprieve from the general YA populace.
The majority of Persona’s events span over just a few days in the lives of Suyana and Daniel. It is set in the near future against the backdrop of a global entity called the International Assembly akin to today’s Commonwealth. The countries who make up the Assembly have representatives or Faces to cast votes on international matters and so on. The catch: These Faces are mere figureheads, glorified spokespersons cum celebrities with absolutely no say in the matters they vote on. Their handlers make the decisions for them. Their presence is more in demand by the lucrative tabloid industry built around them, analyzing their their outfits and ranks on the popularity pyramid. In doing so the tabloids serve as the only means of seeking the truth about the inner workings of the Assembly.
Suyana is the Face for the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation, a struggling nation that is no match for the likes of the bigger nations such as the United States. While on her way to secure a secret alliance with the Face of United States for the sake of her country, she barely escapes an assassination attempt…with the aid of Daniel, an aspiring paparazzi from Korea, who gets caught in the cross fires (literally) whilst trying to land the scoop of the century: a snap of Suyana and US Face together. What ensues is an edge of the seat ride through the lanes of a futuristic Paris with countless plots twists to keep you on your toes.
Persona was either incredibly short or I just could not wait to absorb it, because I finished it in one sitting, more or less. The backdrop of the dance between the enigmatic International Assembly and the relentless paparazzi was rife with tension. The dynamics between Suyana and Daniel encapsulated this quite well, their agendas to their factions in constant conflict with their personal feelings, not necessarily only about each other but also about the system they existed within.
Despite the heady themes, the plot was not very complex to follow and the poignant and refreshing conclusion summed up the lessons contained therein perfectly.
Sure Persona has been categorized as YA, mostly because of the lead characters’ ages but it could just as easily been about an older set of characters. Daniel and Suyana were beautifully crafted characters, thanks to the alternating POV . So much so that my subconscious casting director immediately went to Daniel Henney and Gugu Mbatha-Raw or alternatively, Supernatural’s Osric Chau and The 100’s Lindsey Morgan.
Finally, it was refreshing to read a stand-alone novel among all the serials and trilogies. That being said, after closing the book, I found myself hankering for just a few more moments with Daniel and Suyana.
The Bad and Ugly
There was nothing bad and/or ugly about Persona. Readers of Valentine’s prior works have suggested that Persona is not up to the standard of her former novels but this being my first encounter with Valentine, I had absolutely no complains.
In conclusion, Persona is definitely one of the better YA releases for early 2015 and a definite must for your bookshelves. If you loved the political underpinnings of The Hunger Games, Persona will not disappoint.