Volume 1 opens with Ridley being sentenced to the compounds for the crime of falling in love (with a boy named Kieran who is sentenced to the detention centres) which is against the law of Caiden. Caiden is ruled by The Council, and they control just about everything that their citizens do. Little does Ridley realise that there is more going on in the Compounds than anyone realises, and it is far more sinister than at first thought. The Council moves in and destroys Compound 1, while Ridley escapes with her new friend Roslyn. They make it to the detention centre, where Ridley is reunited with Kieran, and the two of them escape from the council, only for Ridley to be captured again, and for her to learn more about her defence lawyer, Vera than she'd previously imagined.
Link to Volume 1 on Goodreads
Link to Volume 2 on Goodreads
Link to Volume 3 on Goodreads
Link to Volume 1 on amazon
Link to Volume 2 on amazon
Link to Volume 3 on amazon
I thought that the splits between volumes came at sensible places, the way that the story flowed wouldn't have worked as well if they had all been published as a whole. Saying that, I do honestly believe that Sobon could have fleshed out her story a little bit more and made it into a full length novel, or even just a novella, and had a much better story and quality of writing. The idea was clearly there for her dystopian setting, and her characters, it could easily have been done!
Due to the length of each of the volumes, there is not much back story, you don't really discover how Kieran and Ridley fell in love, you're just told that they are, or how Caiden ended up making natural love illegal, again it all comes back to if Sobon transferred this to a full length novel, she could have the opportunity to flesh that stuff out. One of the real issues of the lack of back story was that one of the twists in the plot seemed to come from nowhere. I didn't see that twist coming, but that wasn't in a good way, it felt as if it were there just for the sake of it.
On the other hand the other main twist of the plot, relating to Roslyn, shocked me completely. I didn't see it coming and was impressed about the way that it all fit together and was revealed.
Ridley seemed to create friendships very quickly, or probably more accurately, she trusts other people very easily and quickly, though I guess that this is necessary in a story that is only told in 90 pages. She also seems a little inconsistent in how she feels fear. At certain points, like when she is in the detention centre, she acts really calm and collected and doesn't seemed fazed by the danger or the threat to a loved one, but then at the start of volume 3 she feels fear despite there being nothing in evidence for her to actually be scared of. Ridley did seem to be very mature in her outlook on the dystopia too, she recognises fairly early on that the society of Caiden is built on, and only works through, the fear of the citizens.
I felt that up until about half way through volume 2, the story of Is Love, was fast paced, enjoyable and well written, but for the second half of volume 2, the excitement started to wear off and it just seemed to plod along and get slightly less believable, leading to volume 3 which I personally found to be a bit anti-climatic. The writing style was constant, and it was a good style, I just don't think it was really suited to such a short story, there was no chance for Sobon to really explore anything.
As mentioned, I think that Is Love could be improved massively by being turned into a full length novella, the writing style is good, and the concept is fantastic, its just the length and the compacted story that let it down. But it did leave me with a brilliant quote!
Love is the only thing that is going to save us in the end.