“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.”First and foremost I have to say that I simply enjoy Lauren Oliver's writing. I like her style, both simple and beautiful, relate-able and real. I think she is very talented in a way that you don't always find in YA fiction. Secondly, this is the second Oliver book I've read. I really enjoyed Before I Fall probably until the ending when Oliver ripped my heart out (or something like that.)So I went into this book hesitant, knowing that Oliver has the ability to stomp on my emotions. She did not disappoint. I read a lot of other reviews, good and bad, and listened to the complaints people had against this book.I understand that Oliver is asking a lot of her readers when she asks them to buy into a world where love is outlawed. Maybe even more than asking readers to believe that a government would require children to kill each other? Perhaps. I bought it, though, not because it is plausible, but because it lets Oliver explore themes of love and freedom in an almost metaphorical fashion. The world Oliver created isn't without fault, but it's interesting and very close to our own. It lets you imagine yourself trapped within its borders and laws. I loved the little snippets of the literature of the time, and the way some of it plays on current religious text. Every glimpse into The Book of Shhh fed so much into the story. My favorite aspect was the friendship between Hana and Lena. Their memories, their growing apart and coming together again was nicely done. After that, I really liked Gracie and her own silent rebellion and her quiet understanding. With so much going on in the book, I felt like Lena's personality suffered. Or rather that it wasn't fully developed. Perhaps that was an intentional move and we'll get more of a sense of who Lena is in the following books. But I do wish we'd gotten more of a personality out of her in this book. While I appreciate the reasons why Alex liked and eventually loved Lena, that he'd seen her before, appreciated her energy and how she seemed "alive," I wish Lena had seen more of that in herself. She spent too much of the book telling us she wasn't special, pretty, or brave. Lena has the potential to be a badass protagonist. We didn't see much more than potential.The last 15% of this book was tense. It was hard to read because of all the things happening and...UGH! And the ending. Dear sweet Jesus the ending. It's hard to put into words the 1001 things I felt at the very end. As much as I want to hate on Oliver for making me feel so flustered and pulled in different directions, I can appreciate her skill as an author for being to illicit this type of reaction. This is one that I'll be considering for long after I turned the last page.