Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Author Chris Bostic has taken these historic uses and twisted them to nightmarish proportions creating a landscape with massive areas of beautiful, yet dangerous forest, appalling regions devastated by clear-cutting, forced-labor work camps filled with conscripted teenagers, and built a desperate vision of a post-societal-collapse U.S. The story’s main characters escape from one of these work camps and flee the camp pursuers through the wilderness toward the hope of freedom across the border in Ontario.Besides being a great adventure and tale of survival in a wonderfully described locale, Fugitives from Northwoods has good, solid characters. We get a pretty good feel for each and every one of the teens and their relationship within the group.
I liked the way the author incorporated the well-known Robert Frost poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening into narrator’s (Penn’s) thoughts. The inclusion connected this nightmarish future world to our reality.Author Bostic is apparently an actual outdoorsman himself, and brings that experience and knowledge into his debut novel giving a feel of realism that similar stories may lack. I particularly liked the tidbits of nature information sprinkled throughout (i.e., the presence/absence of earthworms at the lakes and assorted other fishing tips.)
Although I couldn’t find confirmation of it, Fugitives from Northwoods felt like the start of a series. I, for one, hope it is.
Monday, February 10, 2014
The story is an exciting race to beat the devil’s minions, break Wake’s contract, and save the soul of a pregnant teenager bearing a child critical to the upcoming showdown between Heaven and Hell. There are elements of horror, suspense, teenage romance, and even some humorous dialogue (especially between Wake and his mentor, Nevin). Ultimately, however, this is a tragedy. I highly recommend reading the short story prequel, The Promised Land, before Our Souls to Keep but even if you don’t, I think you’ll get enough backstory from the glimpses of how Wake got to be where he is as the novel opens to have a very satisfying reading experience.
Saturday, February 08, 2014
Eighteen-year-old Ethan Jones has grown up in one of these city-settlements, Newhome, on the outskirts of what is left of Melbourne. He leads a successful team of 5 friends that forage for metals and other useful items amongst its ruins.Ethan, however, has a secret. Ethan is a mutant with enhanced hearing and echolocation abilities that would earn him a death sentence if the powers-that-be found out.
The success of this team (far outstripping that of the other forager teams) attracts the attention of the “Custodians”: the militaristic overseers of the city and the guardians of the status quo. Under the pretext of protecting Ethan’s team from the horrific marauders known as the “Skels” that haunt the Melbourne ruins, a team of Custodians accompany them out of the city for a day of foraging.While working, the two teams must come to rescue of a trading party from the distant city-settlement of Hamamachi that has been attacked by the Skels. The party’s only survivors are Counsillor Okada and his young female translator, Nanako. For Ethan, life as he knows it is fixing to change forever … again.
The author has given us a fully developed, post-apocalyptic world and populated it with great characters. The plot is imaginative and I was absorbed with the story immediately. The society of Newhome, highly structured with rigid and unforgiving laws and traditions, sets the stage for the variety of characters and their hopeless lives (although the ambitious can aspire to entry into the privileged and mysterious part of the city known as “North Gate.”)The mix of actually existing items like the Custodians’ Bushmaster vehicles and Austeyr assault rifles add a touch of our present to Ethan’s reality, and I found that fun. I also liked that the characters used actual Melbourne street and place names on the foraging trips. I imagine if the reader actually lived in Melbourne that would be pretty cool.
The action was tense, tight, and held a number of twists that I never saw coming. As I read, I did not want to put the book down, respect the clock, and get on with what needed doing (sleep, work, etc.) in my day-to-day. I just needed to read “one more chapter.” I truly enjoyed this book and will have to build up my stamina for when the Forager sequel – Infiltrator – comes out later in 2014.Bravo to the author for a great start to his trilogy.
Thursday, February 06, 2014
There is mystery, teenage angst, paranormal/magical elements, superpowers, and even the budding of teenage romance: all the makings for a very engaging story and an enticing start to the Mad World series.Action and mystery begin immediately and the back stories of the characters are slowly revealed so the reader learns and feels the heartbreak and circumstances that led to the children’s placement at Wakefield. I found I developed a definite investment in the characters as story progressed: even for those that I didn’t view very sympathetically at the start.
The story closes at a great jumping off place for the second book in the series, Tunnelville. I enjoyed Wakefield so much that Tunnelville is now on my “To Read” list.