Picked up by a military convoy Devin and Karissa leave all they know behind without knowing why they’ve been selected. They soon realise all the “Chosen” are scientists, many interconnected, but nobody will tell them where they are going or why. When the convoy is attacked by rebels looking for food supplies the scientists learn the truth, that they have been selected to leave the dying planet and start a new colony to save a tiny portion of humanity. The scientists must choose; where to go, who to be, and what their growing attraction is worth.
This is an absolutely excellent example of speculative dystopian fiction which is, unfortunately, all too obviously possible given the current climate change, pollution and declining effectiveness of penicillin. The fact that it is routed in a future we can easily imagine makes it frighteningly real both in terms of the effects of our current lifestyles and the political machinations of self-interested government.
The main characters are both excellent; sympathetic, interesting, intelligent, well rounded within the context of their situation. Both must deal with hard issues and make hard decisions about their future, their colleagues and each other. Their physical chemistry is great, the slow burn romance which follows behind is a wonderful read, and a great cliff-hanger to match the will they – won’t they of the Chosen. The wider cast is well drawn, with depth and variety from the mad scientist to the humanist rebels, they add emotional complexity to the tale.
Earth itself plays a huge role in the story with imaginative descriptive scenes; from the beauty of nature to the tension of the life-threatening weather and the way humanity has found to survive – so far. The settings feel authentic, the details are credible and pull you into the reality these people inhabit, adding hugely to the veracity of the world building. Willows’ writing will simply transport you into this future version of our world.
I loved the plot, complex and layered yet clearly and straightforwardly laid out, if that isn’t an oxymoron. It, like the characters and the setting, is full of small subplots and mysteries which add to the whole rather than distract from the core. And all this is enhanced by the science; it felt real, the processes and interpretation of evidence, the ethics and soul-searching.
Whether you like fantasy or not you should give this book a go. The romance is spot on, the world building excellent and the whole is just speculative fiction at its best. I loved Brey Willows’ “Afterlife Inc” trilogy but this is on a whole new level and I sincerely hope there might be a sequel. I’m giving it a very rare 5 stars from me and can’t recommend it highly enough.
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(publisher review copy received)
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