As usual, I really loved Oliver's writing style. Her pose borders on the poetic in some instances, without feeling overwrought or out of context. It's always a joy, from an aesthetic perspective, to read her writing. The basic premise of the novel was intriguing to me--what would a society that banned love look like? It's so broad, how do you even create something that has removed every facet of an emotion? There were several problems / questions left unanswered with the social construction in my opinion (for instance are we born with the ability to love, or is it nurtured? From a psychological standpoint, how would children born into a community devoid of affection grow up to be normal people for all intents and purposes?) But all that being said, I think the concept was pretty strong.Lena, however? I don't know if Lena was a very strong character. (In fact, I keep forgetting her name entirely. I just had to look it up--that could just be a personal problem, though. I'm getting old.) I felt like I never fully understood her motivations or what she wanted...and there was a fair bit of whining involved. She spent the first quarter of the book petrified, pining for the procedure, and then the middle was just overdone schmaltzy romance crap (how many times do I need to hear about their make out sessions? I get it. They're seventeen. It's inferred.), but the whole time she's still planning on going through with her procedure and is shocked and taken aback when Alex suggests they run away together. What saved this book from being 3 stars was the ending. I know a lot of people were unhappy with the 'cliffhanger' of it all, but to be honest? I really liked it. It was gutsy as hell and gave a deeper, more cohesive meaning to what had basically become another angsty YA love fest. Had I not known there was a sequel, I would still have felt like the ending stood on its own. I'm interested to find out what happens next, but I would have been just as content with the way it turned out--even without the 'happily ever after.' Sometimes a sad ending makes for a better book.