I thank author Jason Latshaw for sending me a pdf copy of this book. I read the book in its Kindle format, as it is available on Kindle Unlimited and the review reflects my personal opinion only.
There is no doubt that this young adult, dystopian future, Sci-Fi fantasy story has a lot of potential. The uniqueness in its flavour is appreciable. It is a well written saga which concludes its first installment with a decent want for what may come next and not an irritating cliffhanger.
The story is set three hundred years in the future from our own civilization as we know it in the twenty-first century. Somehow all of humanity is limited to a hundred or so people living atop a mountain without a trace of technology, no electricity, no vehicles, no wars and, apparently, no proper sewage. A main theme of the story is how are humans as a people when they have stopped their progress: no new inventions, no curiosity, acceptance of what is without question. This lends a unique perspective to the characters in the story.
This regressive society lives according to a Code which, among other seemingly ridiculous things, has an article prohibiting physical contact between unmarried people; the population is controlled and the people are divided into classes: Cognates (upper class) and Veritas (lower class) based on their perceived intellectual or physical prowess.
Icelyn Brathius a Cognate, her intended (betrothed), Torrain, and her rebellious Veritas friend, Adorane find themselves, through a surprisingly dramatic turn of events, at the bottom of their mountain. A place which they have been taught to fear since birth, because of The Threat Below.
The trio discover that The Threat Below is actually a species of predatory animals and they suddenly start calling them the Threatbelows (no matter how many times this word is used in the story, it never ceases to feel weird). They figure out the reason behind humanity's seeming extinction and try to reconcile with the Threatbelows. The story linking Icelyn with these creatures and what follows as they ascend back to the mountaintop they descended from is the twist and the saving grace of this tediously long book.
At 544 pages, this certainly isn’t the longest book that I have read in any genre; and seeing that I managed to finish it instead of DNF, this book does have some intrigue and interest. But by no stretch is this book unputdownable.
There is a lot in this book that does not make sense even with suspension of disbelief warranted by the genre. The worldbuilding is not very convincing for many reasons: the main one being that the passage of only three centuries and five generations is supposed to have plunged the remnants of humanity back into a stone age with weird class divide, no religion and apparently none of the learnings from centuries of human civilization.
The romantic angle (which just shies away from being an actual love triangle) seems quite out of place given the upbringing these teens have had, but that is hardly anything major.
All in all, I would recommend this book to die-hard YA fans only.
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