For me, the primary flaw in many dystopians is that they ride the line between believable in a realistic setting and believable in more of a fantasy or sci-fi setting. Please give me one or the other so I can adjust my expectations. This was my problem with Eve.
So while this kept my attention and entertained me, I wouldn't call it the best dystopian I've read. There were some high points, some funny scenes, some adventure. Overall, it was above average. Not a waste of time, but certainly not bad. The best part was the writing, which is very good.
On the characters: Eve isn't stupid, but she doesn't have a lot of common sense. She is seriously short-sighted when it comes to her situations. While the author probably just wanted to place her in a setting where her book smarts wouldn't help her, she does tend to come off as stupid, rather than naive. And these times are when she should have been smarter due to her book smarts! Seriously, what person as well-educated as her thinks of a bear cub as Winnie the Pooh?
Caleb, he's nothing if not witty. He is also a typical, but certainly likable, Prince Charming in the rough. Ah well - isn't that really why we read these dystopian romances, after all? He was generous and kind, and reacted like any really unbelievably good guy. These heros aren't completely realistic, which is why I like them; they are the best of what I love about real men compiled into one guy. I actually really liked the vulnerability he had towards the end, since it gave our heroine a chance to be less of a damsel in distress and more of a peer. What really makes Caleb great is the contrast between him and the bad guy. The differences are subtle, as if the bad guy just barely goes over the middle line into dark territory. Caleb always makes the better choice. You'd think this would make it boring, but really it just makes the two characters richer and dimensional. Caleb isn't always a standup guy; he deals with his pain like a normal human being would. He is believable.
And on that note, I suppose Eve's "duh-ness" makes her relatively believable as well. Sometimes a lack of common sense is more relatable than not. When she doesn't give the right answer in the attempted rape scene, I believe it. A traumatized person wouldn't have the presence of mind to give a well-thought answer. That particular scene was very well done, and another reason I liked this book.
Arden was a pleasant and thoroughly enjoyable surprise, as were the grandma/grandpa characters. I really liked the idea of safe houses and the references to Harriet Tubman. Nicely done, Anna Carey!
The really bad guy was just plain stupid. He bordered on Disney stupid and just plain idiot criminal stupid. Again, a subtle difference that could go either way, but efficiently satisfies the plot element regardless. Not every villain needs to be smart and calculating.
As for the plot, it was a good idea and moderately well executed. Good premise with the whole virus-wipes-out-the-world idea, and then orphans being used for labor and child-bearing. These situations provided the horrific elements that any decent dystopia needs. The kidnapping scene was well done, albeit once again demonstrating the lack of common sense on Eve's part. I found myself shaking my head and thinking "you nevah lissen!" And if I'm honest, what are the chances that Grandma's house is within running distance of where they stop for a bathroom break? Not realistic, but works for the story. Ok, I'll take it because the entertainment is so good.
The ending. Well, it was a good cliffhanger, but one that didn't leave me as desperate for the sequel as other books have done. I wasn't in love with the characters. Having said that, I do look forward to the next installment. It is certainly on my radar for future books I will enjoy. I also found it questionable that any group of women with any kind of sense would just leave a guy with a bad gunshot wound out there in the wilderness to fend for himself. Seriously? With all this compassion and emotion going on? That could have been better handled.
So overall, I do recommend reading this. It's a nice "in-between" book if you've had a string of bad ones. It's also a nice respite from the heart-wrenchers.