An exhilarating ride full of sheer drops and whiplash curves.

Roll Call

BOOK #1 IN THE ROLL CALL TRILOGY

From the Roll Call Trilogy series , Vol. 1

The author of Experiment Station Road (2011) returns with a YA novel about resistance fighters standing against a military government in what’s left of a future America.

An asteroid called “Jurbay” hit the United States in 2063, plunging the western half of the nation into the Pacific Ocean. Only 28 states survived, and they’re currently run by a vicious military called The Third; this organization has outlawed the eating of food (in lieu of nutrient pills); stolen people’s memories of home and family with “locasa” technology; and uses genetically engineered beings (or “GEBs”) to infiltrate and manipulate the masses. In 2083, 22-year-old Avery DeTornada and her friends—McGinty, Pasha, and Shaw—are members of The 28 United, a secret cabal determined to overthrow The Third. When Avery learns that someone close to her has been replaced by a GEB, she misbehaves at the factory where they work so that she can access its inner chambers. During her punishment, she encounters another key member of The 28 United and orchestrates an escape. Once on the run, Avery and company meet feral library children, trash-dump dwellers, and tree minstrels—all of whom see her as their leader in the fight against oppression. The military is wily, however, and The 28 United must conduct a nationwide roll call to see whether they stand a chance. Mansfield begins her new trilogy by dropping readers into a future that’s as propulsive as it is miserable. In marvelous, staccato prose, she describes Avery’s world as “Gray. The sky. The factory. The conveyor belt. The little pills that feed us, heal us, alter us—stabilize us.” The GEBs are reminiscent of the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers but are used so cleverly here that they feel totally fresh. Although the novel is aimed at young adults, sophisticated jolts of turmoil charge the narrative, as when Avery loses “the time to let beauty perform its work on [her] spirit.” Overall, this masterful series opener is in better company with William Gibson’s Neuromancer than safer fare such as The Hunger Games.

An exhilarating ride full of sheer drops and whiplash curves.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5084-0018-9

Page Count: 370

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power.

In the beginning, Darrow, the narrator, works in the mines on Mars, a life of drudgery and subservience. He’s a member of the Reds, an “inferior” class, though he’s happily married to Eo, an incipient rebel who wants to overthrow the existing social order, especially the Golds, who treat the lower-ranking orders cruelly. When Eo leads him to a mildly rebellious act, she’s caught and executed, and Darrow decides to exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this outrage. He’s recruited by a rebel cell and “becomes” a Gold by having painful surgery—he has golden wings grafted on his back—and taking an exam to launch himself into the academy that educates the ruling elite. Although he successfully infiltrates the Golds, he finds the social order is a cruel and confusing mash-up of deception and intrigue. Eventually, he leads one of the “houses” in war games that are all too real and becomes a guerrilla warrior leading a ragtag band of rebelliously minded men and women. Although it takes a while, the reader eventually gets used to the specialized vocabulary of this world, where warriors shoot “pulseFists” and are protected by “recoilArmor.” As with many similar worlds, the warrior culture depicted here has a primitive, even classical, feel to it, especially since the warriors sport names such as Augustus, Cassius, Apollo and Mercury.

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53978-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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