Book Review by Cari Mayhew. Rating 6/10.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this book is a cross between Lord of the Flies, and City of Embers. You know you’re reading a YA novel when it starts with a coming-of-age ritual, and all the characters are under 25 years old.
The central character, Deuce, is a 15-year-old young lady who grew up in an underground enclave, who has trained all her life to catch food to eat and protect the rest of the enclave from sharp-toothed zombie-like creatures (AKA Freaks) who also live underground.
The power within the enclave is held by a minority few and they operate by hard and fast rules. Everyone is designated their own purpose when they come of age. Deuce’s role is “Huntress” and other roles include “Builder” for those who make the items needed by the enclave and “Breeder” for those who lack the skills to be put to any other use.
The enclave motto is “The Strong Survive” and the unspoken implication is that the weak are not valued. Any random object found by the members has to be declared to the elders and kept by the Wordkeeper. Hoarding is punishable by death. The enclave’s beliefs and way of life are all that Deuce has ever known.
Shortly after her naming ceremony and teaming up with Fade to carry out patrols, Deuce starts to see the set-up for the cold way of life that it is. One thing leads to another and the 2 of them are exiled. And so, the second half of the book continues above ground, where they face a different set of challenges.
At the beginning of the book, the descriptions of the fights with the Freaks are detailed, but this soon changes (which I was glad of, as that would have put me off the rest of the book).
The story is fast-paced and I didn’t get bored, but, as you may expect in a post-apocalyptic world, much of the story revolves around fighting zombies, finding food to eat, and water with which to drink and wash. So it felt repetitive in places.
There is a barely-there slow burn romance between Deuce and her “partner” Fade. They have each other’s back when fighting the mutants, and when Deuce got exiled from the enclave, but there’s little in the way of desire for each other.
At one point, the book seemed to form the beginning of a mystery novel, as Deuce and Fade tried to piece together how the world had got this way, but when a yellowing newspaper revealed an old story, there seemed nothing mysterious about the state of affairs.
This book is the first in the 3-book series, Razorland. Strangely the first book doesn’t really end in a cliff-hanger, so I didn’t feel compelled to read the next one. Although I’d imagine some of the earlier characters will re-appear. To be honest, I felt the story so far is unimaginative, but that’s not to say the rest of the series is the same.