Author: Helen Stringer
Genre: YA science fiction
Publisher: Mediadrome Press
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the author
First line: The sky was blue.
Goodreads blurb: Sam Cooper is seventeen. He drives a cherry red 1968 GTO that he won on a bet, and spends his days exploring the open roads of the great American West. He should be living the teenage dream, but post-collapse America is a hard place to survive.
The United States is long dead, basic resources are getting scarcer, and no one on Earth has seen the stars since before he was born. Vast tracts of the country are now empty as people huddle together for safety. In all this chaos, Sam has survived on his wits and occasional luck. But a visit to the walled and prosperous Century City results in a split-second decision that changes everything. Soon Sam is on the run from the ruthless Carolyn Bast, and by something much more dangerous: MUTHA-a powerful artificial entity that has been watching and waiting for Sam’s return from the barren outlands. Sam unknowingly carries the key to something MUTHA can’t live without, something so dangerous that others are willing to kill him, or worse, to ensure that the great plex never possesses it.
Sam can’t stay one step ahead of them forever. His only hope is to unravel the secrets of his peculiar past and awaken the incredible power that sleeps within-because even in his beloved GTO, without the truth, Sam will never succeed in outracing the nightmare to come.
As many of you know, I was already raving about this book in my Sunday Salon post a couple weeks ago – and that was before I had even finished it. There is a really interesting back story to the publication of this book, but I’m going to save that, because I will be interviewing author Helen Stringer here on the blog in the next day or two, and I’d rather you hear it from her. Let me just tell you that I felt passionate about this book before I even received a copy in the mail. And when you feel that way, that anticipatory excitement about a book, there is always a bit of trepidation that goes along with it: What if it isn’t good? What if I don’t like it?
Well, no worries, people. First of all, I knew ahead of time that Helen knows how to write, because the boys and I have enjoyed her Belladonna Johnson series together. Her talent is not limited to middle grade ghost stories set in the damp of England; Paradigm is set in a futuristic California, and you would never know it was written by a British ex-pat.
There are so many things to love about this book. First of all, Sam is a fantastic main character. He is a teenage boy with interesting abilities, but one who still mostly thinks and acts like a teenage boy. He is a guy that most guys will relate to and most girls will halfway fall in love with. Plus he drives a really cool car.
Another thing to love? Helen has avoided the stereotypical love triangle that is so prevalent in YA lit. That isn’t to say there isn’t an element of romance in the book, but the triangle is absent, which is a HUGE plus for me. Also, the book stands perfectly well on its own. I would LOVE to read a sequel, to find out what happens to Sam next, but a sequel is not necessary. Too many times, I feel like authors kind of force readers into reading their next book by not really ending the last one. I HATE that kind of cliff-hanger. Make me love the characters, hook me with the plot, create a world I can see and feel and touch in my mind, and I will want to read the next book – you don’t have to manipulate me into it. And Helen has done that – I loved the world-building, the plot was a page-turner, the characters are fantastic.
Because Helen self-published, she is taking on all of the publicity for this book herself – and I, for one, would LOVE to see it do really, really well. You can click on the Amazon link in my review header to purchase a copy; a Kindle copy is only $4.99. Trust me, this will be money well spent for a terrific summer read.