A dystopian adventure from Australia breaks the mold.
Betrayed, then captured by Connor, a Detention Center enforcer posing as a sympathizer to the so-called Illegals, Ashala steels herself for harsh questioning. The center is rumored to have a new tool, a machine that can pull and search memories from the minds of prisoners. Ashala’s terrified she’ll expose the Tribe that depends on her—children born with extraordinary powers into a world that sees them as a threat to the precarious ecological Balance that’s endured since a cataclysm nearly ended life on the planet. Most children with these abilities are forced into lifelong detention, their powers muted. Ashala was able to hide her Sleepwalking abilities; her little sister, a Firestarter, wasn’t so lucky. The inferno that ensued killed her and their parents and prompted Ashala’s escape to the grasslands and forest beyond the city. Ashala has depended on the counsel and friendship of Georgie, who sees possible futures; Ember, whose complex gift involves working with memory; and Connor, whom she trusted. But as the machine does its work, Ashala finds unexpected strength inside what she re-experiences. All is not as it seems as the plot unwinds into the past. The indigenous Australian author draws from a vast, rich cultural tapestry that will be new to many readers.
If an “exhilarating dystopia” strikes you as oxymoronic, this vivid, original debut just might change your mind. (Fantasy. 12-18)