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First / Chanda Stafford
Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian
Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words
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A school teacher in Michigan, this is Chanda Stafford’s first book.
“Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.
When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.
With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.”
First is a dystopian novel set in the distant future. When the Patriot Act of 2297 was passed, Texans rebelled. The eventual fallout was Texans and their ancestors being punished, treated much like slaves for the rest of the US, with many restraints on their actions, choices, and opportunities.
Mira, the protagonist, was born in Texas and, through the luck (or lack thereof) of birth, has limited opportunity. At least until she is chosen by one of the anointed ones for something special. What that is and what the repercussions for Mira are isn’t clear at first, but become more so as the book goes on.
First is an entertaining read, with an interesting premise, unique story world, and a conflict central to the tale that will keep the reader interested. One of the signs of a dystopian novel is there an underlying political statement, typically taking some aspect of contemporary society and projecting the eventual negative outcome if those pulling in that direction drag everyone down the slippery slope. While the point First seemed to be making was obvious, it seemed more applicable to times past (think pre-Civil War or Japanese internment camps) than present. Then I started pondering some of the stories getting play in the news recently, and reconsidered.
The first of a planned trilogy.
No significant issues
Rating: **** Four Stars