For some reason I am drawn to Young Adult Sci-Fi and this one had the added twist of being post-apocalyptic which is another nuance I like in a story. I was hooked from the beginning and even though I found the heroine on the bratty, emotionally messy side most of the time, I was engaged to the end. There was so much going on with this one including secrets, power ploys, intrigues, survivor-style adventure, clashing cultures and a forbidden romance. I wanted to grab for the next book in the series as soon as I finished.
The setting is earth about thirty years after a world war involving bio-weapons and germ warfare type stuff decimates the human race down to 10% of the original population. The female-side was hit the hardest and birthrates are now very low. About twenty years after the war and its affects, humanity discovers that they are not alone in the universe when an alien human-like race moves in to settle on their planet and repulses all war-like attempts against their superior technology. After a not so promising beginning, both races settle into their respective corners and take an avoidance policy with each other until now.
Jax Mitchell is one of the humans populating one of the largest of the remaining human city strongholds. Her parents are gone. Her dad was taken during the early skirmishes when the aliens first appeared and her mother was later killed when Jax learned through an attack by ruffians what a dangerous place the world had become. Her twin brother Jase tries to care for her and help them survive, but ends up moving them into the city for their protection and aid. Jase is pleased to be part of the city and one of the hunters, but Jax hates it. The man in charge treats women like they are backward and feeble and forces them into arranged marriages when they come of age. Jax plans to be long gone with Jase in tow before that event happens. Unfortunately her plans are side-lined when aliens inexplicably arrive in the meadow near their city and take Jase when he tries to decoy for her.
Jax, with the help of an enigmatic alien teen that is left behind, sets out to rescue Jase from the alien city far to the north. It is not easy since her own people won’t help, the alien is keeping secrets and there are grave dangers along the way. The gravest danger of them all might be the secrets surrounding herself and Jase and why the aliens and the humans want them so badly. Then there is her confusion about her feelings for Lir, her alien companion that has grown to be so much more even while she can’t trust him in the long run because of what he is.
Alright, so the backdrop of this story, the gritty, survival adventure quality to it and the clash of races was all really exciting reading. I loved the way the tension and pacing was used in this one to build up to a series of greater and greater climaxes to the grand finale at the end. I loved the way the relationship was an ‘enemies to lovers to?’ sort of deal.
Jax is the main character and the story is told first person from her point of view. She’s got some wonderful qualities to her that make her a good heroine, but she has some annoying ones too. She starts out the story with only one perspective mattering to her- hers. She is rude, self-absorbed and fragile. She had a lot happen to her and this all makes perfect sense, but yet it is very hard to be stuck in her head with her when she is a hot mess over her PTSD symptoms from her attack and her flood of issues that make her moody around and about other people. But then she starts to grow and mature on this coming of age journey she is forced to take. She fails and she triumphs and she fails again, but she learns and keeps going. The big thing in the end is that she still has a long ways to go. Let’s just say she is an unreliable narrator type when it comes to interpreting what she is seeing and experiencing and she can’t nail down her feelings about Lir to save her life (and it comes to that). The girl trusts where she shouldn’t and doesn’t where she should. And she has an absolute gift for refusing to see what is plain as the nose on her face. I’ve got a pretty good idea of how things are going to go down in the next book, but I think Jax is in for a rude awakening. I just hope she grows away from her unstable emotions or this is going to be a long series to read.
Secondary characters move in and out of scenes and most are pretty enigmatic and still have lots of secrets attached. This is certainly true of those closest to Jax. Lir was an impressive character as the alien companion with her the most in the story and possessing all sorts of truth that he keeps close instead of sharing though I can’t say that I blame him under the circumstances. Against his will, he grows to admire and like Jax and then starts to feel something more right before it all falls apart in a series of betrayals. Jax’s twin, Jase, is another one that is intriguing because of all the excitement swirling around him. Jax gives him unquestioning loyalty in the face of some pretty stiff evidence against him and she doesn’t learn to the end whether he has earned it or not even when she does make it clear that she is strong enough to stand on her own now. The villains truly are vile and they are scary too because they wield a lot of power and influence. I cautiously use the word epic for where I think things will go as a result of all the clashing peoples in this one.
Teen warnings: mild on the language and sex, but still only appropriate for mid- to older teens due to strong violence.
All in all, it was an abso-fab beginning to a series that I will definitely have to pursue to the end. This is for those who enjoy exciting, intriguing YA level Sci-Fi and Dystopian with a sweet romance.
My thanks to Barclay Publicity for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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