I have had a bunch of science fantasy/dystopian books in my grouping this year, about a third of them fell under those categories. That being said, this is one of the ones I liked the most. It ticks a lot of boxes for me, I like lost civilizations, hard magic systems, and different ‘classes’ of wizards. I get a kick out of the ‘healer class’, and scientist characters tend to rank among my favorites so this one had a lot of things going for it.
This world used to have flying cars, electricity, modern medicine, skyscrapers, household appliances and all of the present day creature comforts. About 200 years ago an event known as The Blackout caused all the microchips in the world to stop working, planes fell from the sky, cars wouldn’t run, flashlights stopped working etc. The tech is called “chipware” and very few people alive now understand how it used to work. On top of electronics suddenly ceasing to work, much of the world is now considered to be uninhabitable, and those regions are known as the Terrascorcha. It’s believed that those areas are poisoned and you’ll come back with mutations or die if you venture into it. Not only that, but there are ‘monsters’ known as the “white demons” that patrol those lands making it exceptionally dangerous.
Siv is one of the main characters and the book opens with his family being attacked by white demons when he was a small child. Flash forward to when he’s an adult and he’s met a woman named Cassie who believes that the Terrascorcha is a myth, that it’s not poisoned and wants to go exploring some more out into the wilderness. She’s a brilliant scientist and had already spent a month out there with no ill effects. She’s also very interested in finding out what the white demons are, they appear to be intelligent and hunt in packs. He thinks she’s a little nuts, but off on an expedition they go. He has a friend named Fritz who goes with them and helps out since he’s one of the very few people in the world who not only understand chipware, but can sometimes fix old tech that’s broken. They end up discovering a lost wizard frozen in time who reveals a lot about what happened during the Blackout since she lived through it. From here it would be spoilery to go into more details about the plot.
The writing was pretty distinct when it came to dialogue. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of southern slang/dialect, so that was something I had to try and get over. “Sumgun”, “I reckon”, “fixin’ to do something” are all used quite a bit and although it grated on me, for those of you who don’t mind southern accents, or really like southern accents this could be a highlight. There isn’t a lot of cursing either in-world or real world and it sometimes reads a little YA when something really bad happens and a character says “darn it”. I think when Siv refers to his father as “Daddy” when he’s an adult it’s a southern thing and not an immaturity thing, but again, this didn’t work well for me. I didn’t take any points off writing for the dialect as it’s obviously not a flaw, just a personal preference, the writing was pretty succinct and well edited.
This will be for people who like when sci fi meets fantasy, it’s a ‘going on an adventure’ story with a group of friends exploring a dystopian “earth” with danger all around. (It’s actually called Planet Verde so this may not be an alt earth story). I liked this one enough to finish so it’s getting a rating. It also got over a 7.5/10 which is my threshold for semifinalist consideration.
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 11.5/15
- Writing: 11.5/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10
Final Score: 76/100 → 7.6/10 spfbo → 3.8/5 GR stars
Rating of 7.6/10