"Pandemic inspired dystopian thriller"
August 2022 Debut of the Month
Cruise ships now bring with them a lot of COVID 19 related baggage, and it makes for a highly original setting and premise for this dystopian thriller. The Arcadia is a giant cruise ship that, like many others, fled the virus wars raging in Europe, but the Federated States have left all of them in quarantine for forty years for fear of infection spreading on land. They keep the ships minimally supplied with food and medicine and under a harsh regime of military control.
There is the usual distinction between the lives of privilege and poverty on board and with crime and corruption rife, the only hope for the future of children born on ship is education and recruitment as a soldier or medic. Inevitably rebellion is brewing and allies both inside and outside the Federation are working towards freedom but will the rebels triumph before the Federation policy of ship clearance and slavery reaches the Arcadia? The story is told through three points of view including the third person insight into the villainous, sadistic military commander. Esther is a would-be medic on the brink of achieving a brighter future. Nik is a rebel from the ship’s underbelly. They are thrown together at the centre of the rebellion and refreshingly there is absolutely no romance muddying the waters or at least not between them!
The world building is utterly convincing and as the complexities of the plot are revealed, the tension ratchets up as does the action. This is the first of a duology and I predict students will be queuing up for the sequel when it arrives. This is an impressive debut novel which manages to add something new and different to the genre.