Author: Norma Hinkens
Series: The Undergrounders #1
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Available: Dec 16th
The earth’s core overheats. The sovereign leader vanishes. A young girl is the survivors’ only hope …
What little land is habitable is patrolled by cutthroat gangs of escaped subversives, but that’s not the greatest threat facing sixteen-year-old Derry Connelly, her brother Owen, and a ragged band of Preppers holed up in a bunker in the Sawtooth Mountains. Mysterious hoverships operated by clones are targeting adolescents for extraction.
Owen, is one of the first to disappear. To save him, Derry must strike a deal with the murderous subversives, and risk a daring raid to infiltrate the heart of the extraction operation.
But will the rookie leader falter when forced to choose between her brother and a clone who ignites something inside her she didn’t know was possible?
Source: ARC from the author
This futuristic, dystopian adventure has plenty of action and asks big questions about humanity and survival as we follow Derry on her journey into the wide world, which swiftly turns into rescue mission of a growing number of people. Caught between the dangerous Rogues (subversive criminal types) and the secretive Sweepers (who kidnap people for unknown, though most probably nefarious reasons) with only a small band of friends and possible foes for company, Derry’s definitely got her work cut out for her in this book.
The setting is an unspecified amount of years in the future and six years after Earth’s core has overheated and caused volcanic devastation. Although, to be honest, I’m not quite sure why or what level of damage it left behind, since the atmosphere seems clear and breathable (when I’d have expected ash clouds to have caused major climatic cooling at the very least) and although the population’s taken a hit, the world itself seems fine (apart from a lack of big game… for some never explained reason). There was also a single Sovereign leader of the world before the apocalypse, but I have no idea why or how that came about. So the world building could use a little work.
Then there’s Derry. I found her rather underwhelming as a lead character, and the idea of her being the one everyone else looks to for leadership was baffling. Not only because she’s the youngest, but also because she just isn’t a good leader. She doesn’t listen to Mason’s excellent advice, she frequently zones out when she’s on watch – putting everyone else in danger on numerous occasions – and she flip-flops between being hard and determined, and oddly sanctimonious. She also has a really spiteful moment that came out of nowhere and on more than one occasion vows all kinds of blood-thirsty revenge that she swiftly forgets about.
Baffling. I also found her emotions hard to tap into. This is mostly because the plot drives this story rather than Derry’s personality – which is a very good thing, since I didn’t like her much, all thing’s considered.
Oh, and there’s a love triangle. I knew all along that it would be coming, thanks to the general uselessness of romantic interest #1, but I have to admit the second part of the triangle wasn’t who I expected and felt off to me. It just didn’t fit when there was a much better alternative available, if there had to be a love triangle at all. It was also really sudden. One moment she hadn’t really noticed the guy, then, suddenly, Oh! He makes her feel all funny inside. Meh.
It might also have been nice to have had another decent female character. The two that are given names don’t have much of a voice, and the others that come and go in a blink are just set dressing. Otherwise it’s Derry and her band of not-very merry men, who either think she’s wonderful or are plotting her downfall, which disappointed me a little.
However, there are things that I enjoyed in this book. Big Ed was great, the old mountain man with serious survival knowledge and important wisdom to impart. Then there was Mason, who I found the most interesting character in the book, and he definitely goes through the most changes, from aloof, arrogant ex-Marine to… well, you’ll have to see for yourself. And I loved Tucker the dog, even if I couldn’t quite work out how he managed to get in and out of the bunkers, since everyone else climbs ladders. I know collies are amazingly intelligent dogs, but that did leave me scratching my head.
The plot itself is also interesting, roaming here and there. Yes, Derry’s habit of veering off-course did irritate me (not much of a leader if she can’t stick to a goal), but it certainly allowed for plenty of action and intrigue. A little more world-building would definitely help to make sense of everything, but the story itself has plenty of interest for readers to latch onto. As for the ending… well, I wanted to smack Derry on the head several times, but it was certainly exciting.
Leaving plenty of room for more, the first book in this series is an attention-grabbing, fast-paced read. If you love a dystopian adventure, then you’ll probably find stuff to enjoy here. I did, though I don’t think Derry and her love triangle alone would be enough to draw me back for more. Here’s hoping that Derry continues to live in interesting times.
Immurement is out December 16th!
Visit Norma Hinkens for more details.