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Book Review: Article Three

I was extremely lucky to be gifted an English version of this originally Swedish dystopian YA novel from the author herself for unbiased review. I spent my Christmas holiday reading this book and enjoyed it immensely!

article3

Trust will get you killed – and trust will keep you alive

In a world where the System governs everything, Ava’s a rebel – one who can control other people’s thoughts with her mind. As part of a resistance movement preparing for war, this is a useful skill.

Levi stopped believing in the struggle for freedom when it snatched his parents from him. Now he’s just trying to live a quiet life and control the voices that threaten his sanity.

One night Levi’s sister is arrested. To free her, he has to break old promises and get involved with people he swore he’d never associate with. Ava’s ordered to help him and, together, they leave on a rescue mission. She says he has to trust the rebels. But should they?

First of all, I tend to have a hate and hate-some-more relationship with translations, especially translations from languages I’m somewhat familiar with. While my Swedish definitely isn’t good enough to allow me to read this novel in its original form, I feel I know just enough of the language to be thoroughly irritated when I sense it going wrong. This book, however, was translated very well! There are a few instances of incorrect word use or slightly clunky syntax, but it was never enough to annoy me. And this book gets huge bonus points for being a self-published translation as well! I have read some truly atrocious Big House translations! Okay, but let’s get to the story…

This is a YA dystopian and starts off feeling comfortingly familiar with several identifiable tropes that have made this sub-genre of sci-fi so immensely popular. What made it so different and refreshing is that Lund presents us with a trio of main characters made up of strong, independent young women, and a physically weak, not particularly good-looking guy who freely admits that he isn’t all that smart either. Levi is the antithesis of every brave, buff, and (supposedly) intelligent hero of YA fiction. Forget Roar or Four or Gale – Levi is none of those things and yet, it’s his faults and ineptitude that make him so endearing, not only to the readers but to the women in his team.

Another refreshing aspect to this story was the Scandinavian setting. Without giving too much away, I can say that this book starts off somewhere in what might be the remnants of Germany and takes the trio on a several thousand-kilometre journey north through Denmark, past some well-known sites, to a snowy Sweden where they even get to interact with Sami reindeer herders! Being a resident of the north myself, it was pretty awesome getting to read a YA dystopian novel set in this part of the world.

And finally, the touch of near-supernatural that comes into the story in the form of ‘faculties’ some people possess – that is, explicable talents such as a form of mind reading – makes this a little different again from the way dystopian books usually play out, and another layer to already well-developed characters.

For a first book in a trilogy, the pacing is great and the resolution was satisfying while leaving plenty more story to be told in the sequels. But herein also lies my only gripe. While I know this is a series and Lund is very much going for a slow-burn approach to revealing the characters and their motivations, I did feel like I wanted to get to know the trio all much better as individuals. There are brief moments of flashbacks explaining their behaviour or thoughts but I wanted so much more! I also have to note that the ‘accent’ with which the one character speaks is really distracting and I wish it hadn’t been written into all their dialogue. So two gripes then – both fairly minor things.

Overall, this book is a refreshing take on the dystopian genre, a great first installment in a promising trilogy, and definitely a book I’d recommend to readers who are looking for something fresh in their YA sci-fi.

4/5 ink splats from me!

4 inksplats

~Suzanne~

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Posted by on January 1, 2017 in Reviews

 

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The Legacy Blog Tour – Review: The Legacy by Melissa Delport (Tracey McDonald Publishers)

Morning! Hope you’re all well and ready for the weekend! 🙂

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Today is my slot on the massive blog tour organized by Tracey McDonald for the first novel in Melissa’s trilogy. 🙂 Melissa is a fellow South African author living in Kwa-Zulu Natal, a wife and mother of three kids, but that hasn’t stopped her from writing, and writing well, at that.

Here’s the blurb for The Legacy:

World War Three lasted twelve days. Twelve days was all it took for mankind to devastate the planet and almost eradicate the human race. No victor emerged from the ashes and billions lost their lives.

We survivors lived through the bleakest of winters. A primal existence became the new order, and the little that remained of our humanity hung in the balance.

Then one man stood up and changed the world. I believed, as did everyone else, that he was the hero of our time, the man who had saved us from our own demise. His name is Eric Dane and he is the President of the New United States of America. 

He is also my husband, and my greatest enemy.

I grew up oblivious to the truth, until my father found me when I was nineteen years old. He told me about the many horrifying facts that our new leader kept hidden from us. And he told me that beyond the borders the Resistance grew and fought for freedom from the oppression that Eric Dane had imposed on us.

My name is Rebecca Davis. I am twenty-six years old, and in me the Resistance has found the ultimate weapon.

***

Now, I haven’t read much in the Dystopian genre, mainly because I write Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror (so I read in the genres that I write), and also because there’s so much Dystopian fiction being written for Young Adults – which I’ve got absolutely nothing against. My reading tastes just lie in a different direction. So when I began reading The Legacy I was expecting another YA Dystopian tale along the lines of The Hunger Games (watched the movies, haven’t read the books), and boy, was I pleasantly surprised! The Legacy is aimed at a mature readership, so parents might want to give the book a read first before letting their kids at it.

Not being constrained by the limits of YA, Melissa was able to really delve into the characters and world of the book. These are adults fighting a war, after all, and war isn’t pretty.

The main character of the novel, Rebecca, is a wonderful addition to the ranks of Strong Female Characters – she’s highly intelligent, motivated, passionate, and focused. We meet her as a teenager, getting a glimpse into the life she was living before she became part of the Resistance against Eric Dane and the New United States of America; her father disappeared at the onset of the Nuclear War and she’s had to grow up in a radically changed world without her father and with a family not her own. And she’s happy and leads a good life, until events focus on her and force her to make a decision that will change not only her life but the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of others.

From the onset the reader knows that Rebecca has hidden depths, but the author doesn’t show all her cards at once – instead, information is revealed at key points, not only advancing the plot but adding more layers to Rebecca’s character. None of it came across as forced or contrived, and the journey of discovering Rebecca and the world she lives in is pulled off effortlessly and with respect to the reader.

There are many other characters in the novel that shine – members of the Resistance take centre stage alongside Rebecca, fulfilling their various roles well, while also building a collection of threads that all lead back to Rebecca, and before the climax of the novel begins the reader knows exactly where the characters stand and where the plot is headed – at least, I thought I did, but Melissa still managed to throw a couple of interesting surprises my way.

The world-building of the novel was pulled off well, too – there is a reason for everything, especially the new government and the Resistance. For example, I still don’t know what happened in The Hunger Games that so radically changed society to the levels shown in the movies – it’s just a fact of the story that I was forced to accept. Melissa, though, explains what happened to the world and how someone like Eric Dane could rise to take such a prominent place in it.

And what Melissa also does is write great action! There’s plenty of Bond-like subterfuge in the novel (Rebecca leads two lives, after all), sneaking around and such, but when the characters are forced into hand-to-hand combat it’s pretty evident that Melissa put a lot of thought into how the characters moved, attacked and defended. There’s a completely awesome side to the combat, regarding what some of the characters can do, but I’m not going to spoil it for you – suffice it to say that Melissa successfully melded Dystopian with a certain genre-craze that has controlled the box office for a couple of years now… 🙂

Regarding the personal relationships between the characters, Melissa manages to make the various relationships both believable and heartfelt; obviously there’s more of a focus on Rebecca than the other characters, but the emotional depth of the book impressed me. Also, Melissa teaches Stephanie Meyer just how to write a believable complicated romance – totally believable and entertaining. 🙂

All in all, The Legacy is a better tale, in my opinion, than The Hunger Games could ever hope to be, and is an excellent example of the kind of storytelling promise South African writers have. Melissa has written an entertaining, engaging and thoughtful tale full of intelligent, brave characters, excellent action, great world-building and a great respect and understanding of Dystopian fiction. Highly recommended!

9 / 10

Cover - The Legacy

The Legacy is available throughout South Africa at Exclusive Books branches and can also be ordered online (paperback and EPUB) – it’s also available via Amazon (Kindle and paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle and paperback), and from Barnes & Noble.

Photo - Melissa Delport LR

To connect with Melissa, check out her official website here and the official website for the Legacy Trilogy here; you can also check out The Legacy Book Club on Facebook, add the book on Goodreads and check out her publisher’s website here.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Blog Tour, Reviews

 

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Review: The Dead City Blues by Yelena Calavera (short story / novelette)

Hey everyone, I’m back with another review of the short fiction that Fox and Raven has published – this time I look at a Dystopian tale set in a Jo’burg that has been devastated and largely emptied of life. Here’s the blurb for ‘The Dead City Blues‘:

What do you do when your own dreams hunt you? You hunt them back.

Johannesburg has been destroyed. It is a dead city – torn asunder by the horrors, the nightmares, of its inhabitants. And the nightmares are roaming free. Shelby Maddox and her sister Lara are the only survivors, fighting for their lives, scavenging the ruins of this goldmine metropolis for scraps of food.

With the appearance of Luke, a Dreamer with mind-bending powers, everything changes. Shelby embarks on a journey to save her sister, to save herself – and to conquer her demons.

What first dragged my attention to this tale was the awesome cover art – it put me in mind of a Rorschach ink-blot test gone haywire and psychotic, and I was immediately interested (check out the cover at the end of the post).

The story centres on Shelby, a girl living in the shattered remains of the African metropolis, with her younger sister. Life is beyond difficult – just leaving the relative safety of their refuge could lead to serious injury or even death. Yelena does a great job of describing the ruins of the city – the streets are empty, the buildings are desolate and sad, and wild animals roam are slowly taking back the concrete-and-glass spaces. Shelby is a great character, given to philosophical musings and deep insights, but she’s also capable and dangerous – she has learned the hard way what to do to survive, and has also had to take the role of guardian for her sister.

But things change when Shelby save a very personal nightmare from another human, Luke – what is further revealed about the world in which these remnants of humanity live, through as Shelby and Luke’s fate unfold, shows Yelena’s skill at building a world with layers of menace and beauty.

The nightmare creatures that roam the city are well-imagined and memorable, and the tale flows easily and liquidly in the imagination; couple this with Yelena’s imaginative creations and you’ve got a tale you’ll read, remember, and talk about. 🙂

Looking forward to more from this talented writer!

And as you read it, make sure you’re listening to the incredibly awesome soundtrack created specifically for the story: it’s a Ravensong, and it’s called, ‘I Don’t Need a Savior’. It was composed by Adolf De Beer, and he’s creating amazing sounds to go along with these stories! 🙂

9 / 10

The Dead City Blues

 

For more info about Yelena visit her blog here; to order your e-copies of ‘The Dead City Blues‘ click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK.

And don’t forget to check out Fox and Raven Publishing for more news on awesome publications! 🙂

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Fox and Raven Publishing, Reviews

 

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M.D. Thalmann / Satire and Sci-fi

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