This one’s a keeper: Dystopian fiction of a “The Chrysalids” meets “Mad Max” variety. It is the story of Ethan Jones, forager through the ruins of post-apocalyptic Melbourne for the metals that keep his repressive, misogynistic, mutant-paranoid society running. But Ethan’s success in avoiding barbaric Skel (who murder and enslave everyone they can catch) is partially due to his ability to echo-locate, like bats do.
The story begins with heavy anti-Skel action, heavy interference from the quasi-military Custodians, and a mysterious Japanese girl from another enclave who seems to take an unusual interest in our hero. And to top it off, he has absolutely no memory of a whole year of his life.
This sets up the action, the political suppression, and the love story, which intertwine from that point on. Fight scenes detailed enough to please the toughest action fan, a love story original and touching enough to bring a glow to anyone’s heart, and themes strong enough (but not too intrusive) to make the tale meaningful in our time.
If I had any advice for this author, I would say that he has a very solid background for his futuristic society, but the best dystopian writers are able to fill their stories with a richer environment. Without lengthy paragraphs of description, they immerse us in the minor details of life that allow ourselves to join more completely with the setting and the characters.
That and a touch more rigorous editing, and I’m sure the next book in the series will make a fifth star on my chart.
Recommended for fans dystopian fantasy and just plain action stories.
Four stars out of five.