14 June 2016

E-book Review: Dawn of Rebellion (Dawn of Rebellion #1)

Title: Dawn of Rebellion (Dawn of Rebellion #1)
Author: Michelle Lynn
Year of publishing: 2013
Self-published

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion about the book, and the events in it.

Teenage sisters Gabby and Dawn live in Great Britain, a country ruled with an iron fist by its government. After their father dies, and their mother abandons them, the girls must fend for themselves..  

When Gabby is caught stealing a bracelet for her sister's birthday, she is sent off to the "colonies", a dreaded place from which there is no coming back. Twist: the colonies are built on what used to be the United States of America, and what is now a post-apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by bands of survivors who are trying to make ends meet. Nobody is sure exactly how and why the United States fell apart, but most agree that global warming had a lot to do with it.

As Gabby is trying to survive in a new and hostile environment, surrounded by shady people, Dawn, alongside with Gabby's boyfriend, Drew set out on a foolhardy mission to go to the colonies and save her. And none of them has any idea what - or who - they are going to encounter there.

There are twists and surprises, and the story ends on a nail-biting cliffhanger.

The story has an interesting premise. This is YA dystopia, but unlike most other books in this genre that I know of, this one doesn't just take place in the United States. This way, the story gets more dimensions, and we get to play with the idea how one country's fall may affect the rest of the world (at least, parts of it).

One fun detail that I've noticed is that the author uses two separate world-building tropes: in Great Britain we have a totalitarian dystopia, and in the USA, we have a post-apocalyptic dystopia. And the author does a good job balancing these two worlds and getting them to fit in the story.

There is a great deal of uncertainty that surrounds the characters. Since they're all teenagers, and they have lead very isolated lives, they don't know what's really going on in the world. And we get to see the world with their young and naïve eyes.

There is the same level of uncertainty when it comes to history. Different people have different understandings of what went wrong, and at this point, it's impossible to say who's right, since the facts have been lost. They say that history is written by the winners. But it doesn't mean that the losers don't write their own history. This uncertainty gives the story a good amount of realism.

The book has an interesting premise and an intriguing plot. I do have some issues with the writing.

The story is rushed. And the pacing is unbalanced. Everything seems to be happening very fast; events unfold at such a rate that it makes it difficult to get into the story, and to get to know the characters and the world that they live in. There are no magical fixes, however the story has a lot of something I'd call "speedy resolutions". Problems get solved way too quickly and with very little effort from the heroes.

There are also obvious issues with characterisation. For one, the story is told from multiple POV's, but all the characters sound the same. Every character should have their own distinct voice. It's just like in real life: every single person has his or her own unique way of expressing themselves.

Another thing is that often, their motivations are unclear. For instance, why does Gabby try and steal the bracelet when she knows that her sister depends on her, and that if she gets caught, Dawn will be all alone?

My main issue with the characters is that I don't see them grow. They're just teenagers with no education or experience, but they are instantaneously good at everything, from stitching up wounds to knocking people unconscious and shooting guns. A hero must face challenges - even small ones - and when they come on top and learn something, we as the audience get to see how they have changed. These characters tell us how they have changed, but we don't get see that, because there were no instances when they got to show us that they've grown with their actions.

Another detail that took away from the story, is that the characters often focus on the wrong things at the wrong time. And one of those things is romance. I understand the need for a romantic subplot, it's just that in this story it comes off as forced. The way the story is written, there isn't really any room for it. There is no visible chemistry between the characters, no tension. I cannot root for them to get together because there is nothing that tells me that they should.

There is a golden rule in writing: show, don't tell. And I think that's where the book's main problem lies. The characters tell us everything about their thoughts, feelings and conflicts, instead of showing it. And you can show it by creating suspense, by teasing the audience with little hints and clues, and by prompting us to figure out things by ourselves.

Despite the issues that I have mentioned above, Dawn of Rebellion is an enjoyable read. The characters are likable. The book has an interesting plot and some clever and exciting twists.

My rating: 3/5 stars.


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