Monday, 27 March 2017

The breaking light

My review 
Perhaps I didn’t read between the lines of the book’s description. I was caught by the Science Fiction designation and the editor’s mention of one of the main characters being a wealthy socialite. It appears I should have paid more attention to the book’s description, although I only had “two teens” buried in the last paragraph to give any hint that this book is more of a YA than anything else.

The book barely fits in the science fiction genre. The author has created a world in the future, one that started as a mining planet and eventually degenerated in a class structure, where the upper class lives in the higher levels (and exposed to the life-sustaining rays of the sun) while other live in the Levels or in the original mines (the Undercity). Other than hovercars and phase guns, the rest of the book is pure YA.

The romance that blossoms appears forced, enveloping Arden and Dade in a matter of minutes (undoubtedly spurred by the knife tussle that goes on between the pair). After a few chance meetings between them that probably totaled all of 30 minutes or less, Arden professes her love for Dade. The two of them, of course, belong to totally different worlds, she being a denizen of the Undercity and he the wealthy socialite who lives with the upper class. Because of the short periods of time together, it is difficult to feel any sort of tension (let alone any worry about the characters’ Romeo and Juliet relationship), and thus (for me) the story flattened a bit.

The science is iffy. The phase guns can kill, and vaporize inanimate objects well enough. Other times the damage done to humans is more like a bullet hole. The mines were originally covered by a thick glass (so sun could reach the miners? It was never fully explained) which now functions as an opaque walkway for the residents of the Levels. It all becomes unbelievable that a city (and a planet of cities) would be erected in this manner.

As far as the writing, the author does have talent. Sentence structure, description, and most of the action progresses in a logical manner. Apart from the instant undying love, the characters have some depth to them and their motivations are understandable. Ms. Hansen has also written a book that made it all the way from beginning to end without any offensive language or explicit sex scenes.

As a YA novel, there are probably thousands of readers who will enjoy this story. As I said, it is well written and although it is Book One in a series, there are enough strings tied together at the end that it does not qualify to be labeled a cliffhanger. For science fiction fans expecting something different, this book may be a letdown. As far as grading it star-wise, I felt to be fair I had to examine it a second time under the light of the YA genre (as written by the author in her Acknowledgment section when she thanked her children with “It’s so much easier to write YA fiction with you in my corner”). So strict sci-fi fans, be warned. YA fans, you will probably like this book…as a YA book, five stars.
Release date  April 1,2017

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In a stratified society where contact with the sun is a luxury reserved for the elite, those kept prisoner in the darkness will do anything to find the light. Arden—beautiful, street-smart, and cynical—is one of the citizens of the lowest Level, known as Undercity, of an off-world colony. A blackout band traps Arden in her district, but as sister to the leader of the most powerful gang in Undercity, she has access to Above.
There she meets Dade, one of the few lucky enough to be born into the sun-kissed families who reside in the Towers soaring above the rest of the city. But life isn’t perfect in the sky. Dade, desperate to escape his upcoming arranged marriage, has a secret of his own, and he’s willing to risk everything for it.
An unlikely romance develops between the two teens—but their love faces opposition from above and below. When her gang pressures Arden to help break the grip of the elite and end Dade’s interference with their drug trade, she is forced to make a deadly choice between love and family loyalty. But will the brewing class war destroy the world around them first?

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