Title: Relic (The Books of Eva 1)
Author: Heather Terrell
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Soho Teen
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Number of pages: 277
First line: Eamon throws his axe into the ice above his head.
Goodreads blurb: When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.
Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.
But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.
I read Relic aloud to my three boys, ages 15, 14, and 12, and we all enjoyed it, although I think they liked it a bit more than I did. I am getting a bit burned out on the YA trilogies, where the first book doesn’t really end, and the main character is always caught up in a love triangle. There are some unique things about Relic, though, that set it apart from other dystopian novels.
First, the setting. Instead of a dry, desert wasteland, as is often seen in futuristic tales, Relic is set in the icy North. And while it is set in the future, After Healing – a global flood that destroyed most of the earth except the polar regions – the society has regressed to a medieval, class-segregated society.
I also really enjoyed the references to Inuit culture. The Inuits are the outsiders, acting as servants to the people living inside the Aerie, but are also the ones who have a better grasp on what technology was. The people in the Aerie see Apple, representative of all tech, as a false god whose worship caused the destruction of the earth. The leaders use this false history to create a fear of all things technological, which allows them to control their people.
The author added an appendix to the end of the book that explained how the culture had developed after the flood, and how their government and religion worked. I wish she had simply woven those details more seamlessly into the story as she wrote, rather than tack it on as an aside.
I’m sure that my apathy toward YA trilogies right now is seeping into my feelings about this book, because I will tell you that my three boys were riveted to the story from beginning to end, even with the protagonist being a teenage girl. They definitely want to continue the series, so we will be reading the second book when it comes out next year.