When i started reading I could not help thinking about the British film Shaun of the Dead, a hilarious film about everybody becoming zombies. One of the characters in The Release keeps talking about zombies as his school friends and teachers drop dead around him and I think those one-liners decided it for me: this is a book to read on a windy night when the rain is lashing against the window and the power cuts so you have to continue reading by a flickering candle light.
The Release, by Shelbi Wescott
Lucy King, your average High School girl, is about to go on the holiday of her life with her big family when disaster strikes: A virus, first killing all the dogs but then leaving almost every human being dead, separates her from her family. Stuck in her school she has to decide what to do: work with other survivors or treat them as competitors for food and clean water and resort to violence?
The massive scale of death and destruction puts this novel in the general category of “they are all gong to die a horrible death”, but the author transcends this in a brilliant way. From the characters: the quirky teachers, the crazy principal, the students, to the setting: a school complete with metal detectors and the usual hide-outs for doing stuff the adults have banned, make this into so much more. It is scary, it is funny but it is also thought provoking at times.
The Release is the first in a series, Virulent.
At the moment I am doing a lot of reading and reviewing for people and it is great to be allowed to read so many books (for free – when do you get nice stuff for free?). I have just been sent 10 (I know, ten) dystopian novels for YA to read and one of them turns out to be one I have already read. External Forces turned out to be so good I have decided to share it again. This is one of those books you wish you had not read yet as you, reluctantly, reach The End.
Author: Deborah Rix
Title: External Forces (The Laws of Motion), published 2013
Desperate to avoid being ousted as a Deviant sixteen-year-old Jess joins the army together with her friend Jay. The Devotees share God’s work to secure genetically acceptable humans in a future America where the undesirables – the Deviants – disappear conveniently. But not everybody is happy with the way society is run and there are rumours about a group of people, The Red Hand, who oppose the authorities. Jess witnesses first hand the high price you have to pay for even asking questions and when she finds friendship and love in the shape of her Sergeant, Matt Anderson, she has to make up her mind whose side she is on.
I found the idea of a future society, where insight into genetic engineering marries religion to form ideology intriguing and believable. There is a mix of violence and romance in the book but also a huge part about friendship and the fear of not fitting in. The story is well developed and the characters are multi-layered to allow them come alive to tell their story in their own voices. Despite Jess being the main character – a shy girl who is suddenly exhibiting skills that single her out from all the other recruits – there are several others that leap out from the pages: Sheree, the strong and outspoken girl who takes Jess under her wing, remains my favourite.
This book felt like an inspiration among the flood of dystopian novels that have been published these last few years and it made for compulsive reading and I am looking forward to the sequel. To anyone who complains about sequels I want to add that as External Forces does not end on a cliffhanger it can be read on its own.
I have just finished reading a dystopian novel in which the UN has turned into a dark power…
It is one of those novels I would love if I could change around stuff, but that is not really an option with books and perhaps that is a good thing.
Finding Sage, by Logan Judy
In a future world the UN has become an all-knowing, all-seeing organisation that rules with violence and they are persecuting and killing people with supernatural powers. Silas Knight has spent his life on the run, alone since he lost contact with his father. He meets other rogues, as they are called, and together they are on a quest to find the mysterious Sage – a freedom fighter using a blog to get his ideas out.
The idea the author has come up with is better than good (even if some readers may feel outraged that the UN has been given such a sinister role), but I am getting lost among all the new characters that keep popping up, and who, in many cases, are killed off almost as soon as they are introduced. As a consequence I found it hard to engage with the characters and the story. It is brave to keep introducing new characters to the very end, but it is difficult to pull it off and I am not sure the author has.
Despite my uneasiness about whether I am comfortable with the massive list of characters the novel is touching something that could become an absolutely great novel and I would personally like to see the next version.