This was an entertaining story, but also carried some interesting lines of inspection on social mechanics. In Autonomy, Jude Houghton explores the consequences of when global policy is dictated entirely by economics. Those who live in squalor and decay should be grateful that they can contribute enough to productivity to earn their minimum subsistence. Those who live a rich life in a city of high rise buildings feel no shame as they provide a means to exist. After all, those wretched souls don't have to accept the work. Other concepts that are explored, is the use of media to foster complacency, and a digital interactive religion to provide hope.
Narration and Structure
Autonomy uses a third person narrative that cycles through a short list of characters. While this can be difficult to manage, Houghton did a fine job. The use of immediate context to indicate a change in perspective, and smooth transitions that enable anticipation of such change made for a comfortable experience. The typographical errors were few, and seemed to mostly occur in the middle segment of the book. They were, overall, not terribly distracting or egregious.
Plot and Characters
This story was heavily layered. Some subtle references, which without context mean nothing, turn out to be quite significant. I enjoy this kind of depth. Even supporting characters have their secrets and motivations hiding beneath their shallow veneers. If one enjoys cerebral engagement than this is possibly the book for you, as is does not employ frequent use of action or interpersonal intrigue to drive the story.
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In a world divided between the Hunters and the Warriors, the prisoners who have fallen prey to King Cyrus's decrees are forced into the arena to fight until death. The winner is granted mercy and the privilege to see another sunrise–for the loser, it’s death unto the weak.
Seventeen year-old Princess Echo races towards freedom to find out who she really is, and to put a world that has been swallowed by lies back together again.
And then there’s Ayden. His very existence as a Hunter is forbidden, and with his otherworldly, violet eyes Echo is finding it hard to stay away from him. When death threatens their forbidden love Echo and Ayden are forced to do the unthinkable–how far will they go to be together?
Many thanks to Nadège Richards and Permuted Press for providing a review copy of this book.
In the reading of Burning Bridges I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I say this because I had already formed a preconceived notion of it. Richards had told me that Burning Bridges was her early work, and disclosed the fact that she felt that it was naïve and not her best. Regardless of this, I moved forward with reading it. While I recognize much of what she meant, I still find the story to be compelling. It captured my attention for reasons I can't seem to appropriately articulate. I intend to read the rest of the series. I am excited to both: see how the journey continues, and witness Richards' metamorphosis as a writer and young woman.
One may wonder how I could expect to see an author's personal growth through their writings. In this book, the author's voice is present in an almost resonant way. The narrative offers subtle reflections on personal issues such as transitions into adulthood, and universal concepts like autonomy versus governance. I anticipate this voice to become clearer and more sophisticated as the series progresses. And I couldn't be more excited.
The characters do not merely serve as a platform for the author's voice, however. Each behaves in a manner that is appropriate to their age and circumstance. Even characters which at first sight appear to be depth-less, turn out to have deeper modes and motivations. The dynamic between the characters is used well to emulate, in the reader, the range of emotions the principal characters experience. A favorite example of this is the confusion about the Queen's mercurial behavior toward her daughter.
The pacing is good, and the narrative hooks are well formed and placed. I found myself easily driven toward the end. The transitions are only awkward in a couple places. This is mostly an editing issue as it is due to incorrect announcement of which first person voice is being used.
For being traditionally published, I was surprised at the number and types of editing issues I found. In addition to the one type already mentioned, there are also quotation marks on non-dialog segments and simple typos. In an overall balance against the positive aspects, it is still a good story. It is strong enough to carry a reader beyond the distractions.
About the author (from author's page)
Nadège Richards is the author of the Bleeding Heart Trilogy and
currently attends college for her BA in journalism. Her name is of French
origin, though she's never been to France. She wrote her first novel about
aliens and goats in the 8th grade and has had a passion for story-telling ever since.
Her friends and family are her biggest inspiration, and the occasional cup of tea.
When not reading and writing obsessively, she's usually found studying, social networking, or at home with her family in sunny Pennsylvania.
“The world had turned to waste; immortality was never meant for man and it drove humanity to the edge of destruction.”
I have heard it said, that sometimes the ideas which sound the most wonderful can turn out to be the worst. Jacinta Maree explores this very concept as it concerns a form of immortality. In Soulless, a person's body is not invulnerable to entropy as is common to most ideas of eternal existence. Instead, when one dies they are reincarnated with the memories and personalities of their previous lives. This poses serious issues for mental health. While a drug has been developed to suppress the voices of the past, it is in short supply. I found this idea to be enjoyable as it is a novel approach to immortality, and a fresh scenario for dystopian fiction.
The two main characters were great. The show of such inescapable dysfunction was exciting and nerve racking. The remaining characters didn't seem to display much depth. Sure, there were surprises from others, but none seemed to be terribly complex. I would have wanted to see more overall personal interaction, and this might have fixed the aforementioned gripe. This is not meant to convey a serious detraction from the book. It's for knowing to expect a sense of personal detachment, and that the story uses accessory characters to support the plot.
The world was as graphic as the book cover which grabbed my attention in the first place (much congratulations to Thander Lin). Appropriate amounts of detail made for a rich experience, but not a burdensome read. I am glad that the world was not a static backdrop of urban decay. There were environments which are typical of dystopian genre, and there were others which seemed almost normal. This is an idea which is often overlooked. When the world falls apart, not everything will be consumed and the lifestyles of some will continue unaffected.
The beginning was fast and I was brimming with speculation. A great launch! I was gripped by Nadia's experiences. But somewhere in the middle the narrative lost it's momentum. I am not sure what happened to the pacing, but my first guess is story elements that do not move the action. I am glad for it hooking me again towards the last quarter. I don't enjoy monitoring my progression, feeling tired at the end, or writing a dismal review. There were also editing issues, which seemed to exacerbate the sluggish middle. When I would just barely become submerged in the story, a typo, missing word, or noun/verb plural disagreement would jar me back to reality. I had not expected to find an editor, let alone two, credited in the front. Not necessarily an indication of poor editing skills, but possibly they had been on the project too long or other ruinous circumstances.
As I intend to request a review copy for the second instalment, readers can be confident in my recommendation of this book, regardless of the detractions. It's premise and conclusion are both great, and can hopefully be considered a rocky start for a potentially awesome series.
About the Author (from authors page)
Born in Melbourne Australia, Jacinta Maree considers herself a chocoholic with an obsession with dragons and Japan. Published in 2012 to USA publisher Staccato Publishing, Jacinta writes a variety of genres from YA paranormal, steampunk, horror and fantasy. Winner of 2014 Horror of the year and best selling author, Jacinta writes to answer all of her absurd questions and to explore themes and characters not often seen in main media.
I love books! For most of my life I have been reading them, and giving my insights to friends and family. This blog is for sharing that passion with the many others that love books too.