A Teen's Freedom is Never Free or Easy. 3 Rabbles for a very good dystopian action novel.
Chemical warfare has obliterated most of the world, including America, and the survivors have turned into feral beasts, save one colony, Antius, the last remnant of civilization. Seventeen-year-old Cori (aka Citizen 1206) only longs for wide open spaces and freedom. But Antius has no use for such things, just mindless drones to serve in a place with walls, fences, and laws. A lot of laws, which Cori constantly breaks. So she’s spent years plotting her escape, which is the only thing that will save her from the colony’s deranged leader, Nathan. She isn’t looking to be a hero, and she certainly isn’t looking to fall in love, but she just might do both.
This is the debut novel by E.R. Arroyo. The Reading Rabble likes to introduce and support new and upcoming authors. This book seemed like it was an ideal read for the Reading Rabble because it's great teen action story.
Following a worldwide chemical and biological war, the ragged survivors are drawn into several colonies, each with a special talent for survival. One colony, Antius, has motivations other than survival. The draconian leader of the colony, Nathan, ruthlessly suppresses freedom by keeping the people in a virtual prison. But our heroine, Cori, is smart, tough, and rebellious. Her motivations are clear - escape.
Along with her love interest Dylin, Cori manages to escape the clutches of the evil dictator Nathan, and his ruthless colony. The scenes of the escape are descriptive and exciting. Perhaps the only drawback is the author's tendency to wax overly long on the interplay between the characters in their quest to escape. The friendship - and perhaps something more - between Cori and Dylin is obvious to even the most oblivious of readers. Set in between the action scenes, this just tends to distract from the story a little bit.
I very much enjoyed the heroine, Cori, and appreciate the author's care in developing this strong, independent-minded girl - including some very special abilities that I won't spoil here. Likewise the supporting characters were also very likable. Especially the City Boys. Tyce, Eli, and others were essential to the journey Cori must go on in order to find her true freedom.
I also enjoyed the setting of this story, the world after a massive chemical and biological war. While dystopian books today tend to present a post-zombie or post-vampire apocalypse or some mysterious disaster, it was almost refreshing to read about the world after a simple, old-fashioned war.
The devastation and desperation sometimes reminded me of one of my favorite post-war survival books , "Alas Babylon" by Pat Frank. Written way back in 1959, during the height of the cold war when nuclear disaster was believed to be not only possible but inevitable. Admittedly, these two stories have almost zero in common when it comes to the plot, but I was reminded on several occasions of Frank's classic novel when descriptions of the bombed-out landscape were given. "Alas Babylon" is truly a classic of the dystopian genre and a great read besides. (A future review of this one may be in the works.)
"Sovereign" is a wonderful book that also has some elements of modern disaster novels. Some of the survivors were damaged by the war and became monsters with descriptions somewhat like zombies. These feral humans are found throughout the story and lend a creepy and gruesome feel to the story. Conflict with these creatures is often bloody and graphic. This aspect pulls the book fully into the modern dystopian genre, while the author skillfully manages to keep it from becoming the main focus - which is a relief because so many other current novels cover that ground.
The ending is only somewhat satisfactory. There is a sequel to this first novel so I hope that more of the plot is completed in the next installment. This first one left so many questions unanswered. Almost, but not quite, I wanted to not like this story overall. But it had so many of the elements of the classic post disaster novel that it was hard not to like it. Especially with the strong female lead. A great first novel by E.R. Arroyo, I can only hope for more in the future.
The Rabble Rouser is going to give this exciting book 3 Rabbles with an R for reluctant readers. Despite a few flaws in the storytelling and writing, I think that almost all readers will enjoy this story and relate the strong teen heroine. Reluctant readers will enjoy the easy way in which the story flows. The Rouser may upgrade the rating on this one "Sovereign" based on the follow up books - so, stay tuned!