Solstice by Jane Redd


From the "Solstice" series, volume 1
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In a repressive, future world of rising sea levels, a teenage girl must hide her forbidden emotions from all-powerful authorities—and from her questionable friends and classmates.

In this slickly told YA sci-fi tale by Redd, a pseudonym of prolific historical fiction author Heather B. Moore (Love Is Come, 2016, etc.), climate change has brought about the world that George Orwell famously predicted, only a century or so behind schedule. In 2099, Jezebel is a teenager in a world tormented by ceaseless rainfall. The last sizable, high-tech city-state, which exists in subterranean complexes on diminishing high ground, has taken harsh measures to preserve itself: it’s created generations of kids micromanaged by guards and teachers in a rigid atmosphere of heavy science education. There are also formal bans on sex, families, religion, and even emotion, enforced by “Harmony” dermal implants. Jezebel, however, is a so-called “Carrier” who has free thoughts and feelings; she struggles not to show them, due to constant monitoring. She may also be able to activate mysterious, hidden “generators” that could solve the weather crisis. When she receives an ancestral inheritance, it includes one highly taboo item—a journal written by her grandmother Rose describing life in “Before” times, including the terrible offense of falling in love. Straightaway, government operatives seize Jezebel and run her through an ordeal of trials and treatments. Have they uncovered her Carrier status, or is Rose’s journal part of an elaborate loyalty test that also involves Jezebel’s close friends and fellow prisoners? The story has a timely ecological hook. However, its scope remains confined to sterile, institutional settings and totalitarian-nightmare tropes that have a long history in future-shock sci-fi literature. The reign of terror has droplets of conservatism and evangelicalism (note the scriptural character names), but it doesn’t get overly preachy about it. Characterizations tend to be rather stifled, although readers may forgive that, given the chilly, lockdown environment and a fear-ridden narrator whose world (and personality) is largely purged of past history and attachments. The big question of the “generators,” though, remains almost completely unanswered. In the closing chapters, the author finally opens up the fictional world, which brings a breath of fresh air to the material. Redd may explore the dystopian landscape to a greater extent in potential sequels.

A solid but slightly suffocating YA tale of a dictatorship set in a 2099 that parties like it’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-941145-69-2
Page count: 294pp
Publisher: Mirror
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2016


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