Author: Ann Christy
Published: July, 2014
One hundred and twelve years after the fall, the Republic of Texas is built on two foundations: total freedom and total responsibility. A law broken means a strike against the lawbreaker. Five strikes means execution. The only hope for the law breaker is to escape Texas—to go Striker—before justice comes for them. Sixteen-year-old Karas Quick has never had it easy. The daughter of a Striker and an alcoholic mother, she’s gotten everything she has the hard way — even the strike on her neck. Yet try as Karas might to stay above-board with the authorities, there are some things you just can’t plan for. Like seeing the face of her long-lost father paraded through the town square in chains. In the blink of an eye, Karas’s life changes forever. Potential strikes be damned, she has to see her father one last time. What she discovers propels her upon an unimaginable journey, one she can only hope she’ll survive.
Characterization and badassery
Karas is quick-thinking and quick to act. She’s young, but isn’t a complainer. She lands solidly in the hero-with-agency pot. She feels like a realistic character. Not too idealized, not too perfect. She doesn’t have all the answer but she’s willing to make hard choices.
Plot and pacing
There’s no trope here. No formula. Although it’s a dystopian hero’s journey story, it doesn’t rely on what’s been done before to get the job done.
The pace does start to drag after they’ve been on their way for a while. The characters end up in a sort of holding pattern of almost getting there, but not quite arriving. Eventually they do break out of it and manage to find their ending. That resolution is fairly complete, with room for a sequel.
Prose and editing
Very readable, good flow. Some minor typographical errors that could easily be corrected and which don’t affect the reading.
No, the tone stays pretty serious throughout.
I didn’t know what sort of book this would be when I started. Didn’t know when I was halfway through, either. The fact that it didn’t remind me of other things I’d read is my favorite thing about it. Yay for Ann Christy for having new thoughts! I put this under “urban fantasy” but there’s no magic or anything of that sort. The fantasy part is that the United States is a very different place.
I wish we’d gotten some brief explanation for the dystopia. I’d like to have had an idea of what caused the breakdown in the U.S., and why Karas’ hometown was the way it was. I’m sure that will be described in the next book, but some context for this book would have been helpful. There were also a couple details near the end that felt like they might be plot holes, but maybe the next book puts them into context.
Regardless, I liked Karas and her adventure. And her friends, too. None of them were cardboard cutouts or placeholders. All the people there had their own role to play and their own personality. I appreciate how Ann Christy thought outside of the box, and I’ll be looking for more books of hers.