Telepath

From the Hive Mind series , Vol. 1

A fresh, nuanced examination of the human desire to define itself in the face of societal norms.

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This sci-fi coming-of-age story finds young adults struggling against being complacent workers in a hive society.

In a future in which humans have abandoned the planet’s surface to live in crowded underground “hives,” world governments imprint instructions into the minds of their citizens. Criminals’ memories are wiped to remove criminality, and crime victims’ brains are similarly altered to remove their traumas. Natural-born telepaths, such as a teenager named Amber, are extremely rare and conscripted into service at age 18, when they must begin scanning citizens’ minds for violent intentions. Because of her powers, Amber is one of only a handful of people in her society who are allowed to retain their senses of self. As the head of an elite law enforcement team, she has all the trappings of wealth and power, but she begins to find that she can’t trust her own thoughts; she also begins to fall in love with Lucas, a team member whose mind is the most complex and beautiful that she’s ever scanned. Slowly, she realizes that a recurring dream that she’s had since childhood is a mental echo of a real event, when she was kidnapped and programmed by her hive’s enemies. With Lucas’ help, Amber must set a trap for the enemy agent who programmed her and find some way to protect herself, her family, and her hive from the unknown instructions hidden deep within her mind. Author Edwards (Earth and Fire, 2016, etc.), a prolific, Oxford University–educated sci-fi writer, offers the first installment of a new trilogy here. Although she rewards readers with several big revelations by its end, there’s more than enough mystery remaining to support two more books, as the clues are hidden in Amber’s memories, and her struggles to retrieve them reveal the hive’s true vulnerability: a society that wipes people’s memories can’t learn from its own history. With vivid prose, Edwards also manages to make the hive spaces seem vast or claustrophobic by turns; along the way, she also offers a thorough analysis of the costs of isolationism—to individuals and to a nation as a whole.

A fresh, nuanced examination of the human desire to define itself in the face of societal norms.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5370-8802-0

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

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

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. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

GOLDEN SON

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 2

Comparisons to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones series are inevitable, for this tale has elements of both—fantasy, the...

Brown presents the second installment of his epic science-fiction trilogy, and like the first (Red Rising, 2014), it’s chock-full of interpersonal tension, class conflict and violence.

The opening reintroduces us to Darrow au Andromedus, whose wife, Eo, was killed in the first volume. Also known as the Reaper, Darrow is a lancer in the House of Augustus and is still looking for revenge on the Golds, who are both in control and in the ascendant. The novel opens with a galactic war game, seemingly a simulation, but Darrow’s opponent, Karnus au Bellona, makes it very real when he rams Darrow’s ship and causes a large number of fatalities. In the main narrative thread, Darrow has infiltrated the Golds and continues to seek ways to subvert their oppressive and dominant culture. The world Brown creates here is both dense and densely populated, with a curious amalgam of the classical, the medieval and the futuristic. Characters with names like Cassius, Pliny, Theodora and Nero coexist—sometimes uneasily—with Daxo, Kavax and Sevro. And the characters inhabit a world with a vaguely medieval social hierarchy yet containing futuristic technology such as gravBoots. Amid the chronological murkiness, one thing is clear—Darrow is an assertive hero claiming as a birthright his obligation to fight against oppression: "For seven hundred years we have been enslaved….We have been kept in darkness. But there will come a day when we walk in the light." Stirring—and archetypal—stuff.  

Comparisons to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones series are inevitable, for this tale has elements of both—fantasy, the future and quasi-historicism.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-345-53981-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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