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WesternSFA
Article 5
by Kristen Simmons
Tor Teen Hardcover, $18, 364pp
Release Date: January 31, 2012
How many novels do you know of that are a teenage girl's coming-of-age romance set in a future American dystopia? Okay, there's the Hunger Games series but that's a bit far in the future. This story is set in the very near future when all of America 's major cities have been bombed and evacuated, and the country is now in the grip of a right wing Christian tyranny. We don't know if the war was a civil war or a foreign exchange. Any political details are lightly sketched in around the personal struggle of a young couple, Ember and Chase, who are on the run. The story is written in the first-person narrative from Ember's point of view just like a teen romance is supposed to be. Instead of the standard romance, we get a fine personal sense of just what a nightmare world this would be. There is only one spot in this book that I disliked and that was how the dramatic climax at the end was resolved. Unfortunately a confrontation with a villain was set up so that either direction it could go was a terrible cliché and the author opted for the more treacly one that seems to be required if you're writing for a teen market. As unrealistic as I found that, it can be set aside, or else the correction of that flaw can be a strong basis for a sequel -- come on Simmons, you can do it! ~~ Mike Griffin
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