THE PHONE by W.J.  Orion


From the "Dry Earth " series, volume 1
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After aliens in battle armor destroy most of human civilization, a tough adolescent survivor finds hope and surprise allies thanks to her possession of a rare, working cellphone in this YA sci-fi novel.

Planet Earth was looted of most of its water by mysterious “crabs”—aliens (or alien robots) in plasma cannon battle suits resembling oversized crustaceans. In the process, billions of people died. Mankind did figure out ways to kill the crabs, but civilization still crumbled in decisive defeat. Now, in the parched wastelands around Milwaukee, where crabs still occasionally patrol, 16-year-old war orphan Yasmine stoically perseveres, bartering salvaged goods, including weapons, and reclaiming what water that remains from condensation, secret stashes, and even recycled urine. She also secretly maintains her late mother’s cellphone and its archived texts, photos, music, and handy camera by using a solar charger. After she manages an incredible one-on-one victory against a crab, she adjusts to being a member of a hardscrabble colony of fellow survivors. But then her phone starts receiving new messages. A caller named Trey tells Yasmine that he’s being held prisoner in the city by a human faction called the Monoliths—and he needs her help. Orion launches his Dry Earth series with some sci-fi tropes that aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but they do have suitable gravitas. The author spends much of the narrative developing Yasmine’s character as a hardened, adolescent loner who’s slowly acclimating to a makeshift community. Sharp readers may see the story’s big third-act twist coming from blocks away. Still, Orion effectively pours on the action, with Yasmine surviving firefights and collapsing buildings with no injuries—at least, none that are serious enough to keep her from the next battle. The author also tosses some plot twists and engaging concepts into the mayhem that will keep readers engaged. Unlike similar titles in the post-apocalyptic YA subgenre, there’s no romance in this installment—but then, this is only Book 1.

A twisty alien-invasion actioner that’s front-loaded with emotion.

Pub Date: July 10th, 2018
Page count: 213pp
Publisher: manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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