Title: Fourth World
Author: Lyssa Chiavari
Series: Iamos Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
IAMOS, S.C.D. 8378
Nadin’s planet is dying. As its atmosphere drains away, her people are forced to live huddled in domed cities for protection. With only enough resources to support the population for one more year, time is running out. Nadin thinks she’s found a way to save Iamos, but it will mean defying the planet’s rulers, the geroi—and betraying the geroi could cost her everything.
When a strange boy from another world appears out of nowhere outside the citidome’s glass walls, Nadin knows for sure that her plan will work. But to build the device that can save her people, Nadin must first find the legendary city of Elytherios. And to do that, she’ll need the help of the mysterious alien boy named Isaak.
MARS, 2073 C.E.
All Isaak wanted was to get through his senior year at the Academy in one piece. Everything would have been fine if he hadn’t found that ancient coin among his missing father’s possessions. The coin seems to have a strange connection not only to Isaak’s family, but to Mars’ ancient past.
But how is that possible, on a planet that was supposed to be dead until just forty years ago?
Now Isaak’s got agents of the Earth’s government on his tail and a deranged factory worker stalking his every move. Everyone is desperate to get their hands on something called the Key. And the only way to escape is to unlock an even bigger secret, one that could change his life—and the fate of Mars—forever.
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I think I saw the gorgeous cover, heard mention of demisexual and asexual characters and went for it. And I’m so glad I did, because this tale of two worlds, two very different teenagers and a whole bundle of interwoven secrets was great – intricate, clever, accessible and highly enjoyable.
Isaak lives on a near-future Mars, where the colony has been developed as an off-Earth manufacturing centre. With no centralised Earth-controlled government it’s painted as a sort of Utopian society where everyone is equal – which of course they aren’t. Isaak’s best friend Henry is something of an anarchist, putting forth conspiracy theories and disruptive opinions that Isaak largely ignores – until certain events make him change his tune. Because strange things are happening on Mars, not least at a geological survey site that is uncovering some unusual finds.
Despite living on a different planet, there’s a lot that’s familiar about Isaak. He has family troubles, he’s not particularly happy about the future mapped out for him, he’s struggling with feelings for one of his friends and he shares a lot of pop culture references that readers will recognise. He’s a normal kid, with a particular talent for languages, and while he’s mostly smart and good in a crisis, he also misses some more obvious things that make him appear naive at times. I liked him.
Nadin’s life is quite alien. Her world is dying, her society is rotten and her view of life has been utterly skewed by her privileged place in it. She’s clever too, but severely misguided and the series of sharp, sudden shocks that she undergoes does leave her reeling and makes her occasionally seem foolish. In truth she’s trying to deal with her world not only ending but getting turned upside down in the process. Yet when she gets on board, she does it with all that she is. I’m not entirely sure that I liked her, but I think as she develops in future books I will grow to.
The story itself does an excellent job of slowly leading the reader deeper into the mysterious secrets, laying early foundations that later develop into excitement, wonder and curious occurrences. There is a lot of world-building to be done, for both Mars and Iamos, so the pace does feel a little slow at first, but I appreciated the level of detail and depth behind it all. As the first book in this series it definitely left me wanting more – although that ending might leave you scrambling for the next book, and howling that it’s not out yet. I can’t wait until it is.
Fourth World is Out Now!
Visit Lyssa Chiavari for more details.