I've been reading a compelling new book by my friend, Rebecca Belliston. The series is called The Citizens of Logan Pond, and Book 1 is titled, Life. Books 2 and 3 will be titled: Liberty and Pursuit, respectively.
This series is set in a dystopian America in the very near future. In my mind, that is what makes it so chilling. The plausible nature of the calamity that leads to the dystopia, and the familiar setting give the story an extra poignancy.
I'll let Rebecca explain what the impetus was that got her started with this story:
"Six years ago, I got stuck on a single question: 'What if the end of civilization as we know it doesn't come from some huge war or catastrophe? What if it comes from the absence of one small thing: the dollar?' This question wouldn't leave me alone and has grown into this series."
Taking that question as a starting point, Rebecca has created a haunting story and setting that also allows her to explore the more human dimensions of such a disaster: "I also wanted to explore what kinds of things would survive if everything else is taken away: namely family, friendships, and love."
And explore these she does. Life works very well as a young adult adventure-romance. But it also has additional layers built in as the characters work through situations that allow the reader to think about some of these issues.
Rebecca did a wonderful job of building an ominous tone of suspense. Even when good things were happening, I couldn't relax because I knew the bad guys were off-camera, plotting and getting ready to do something, well, bad. This made it so I could never quite relax--which is exactly the situation in which the Citizens of Logan Pond find themselves.
Rebecca was able to create romantic tension without throwing in sex scenes, and she was able to create menace and tension, and show an ugly world without explicit violence. There were some moments that were very heartrending, though, and the lack of sex and violence did not reduce the emotional impact of the book.
As I said, the book is the first in a series. One other thing I appreciated is that Rebecca managed to end the book in a way that left some questions and issues to be resolved in the next book, but she also resolved the narrative arc in a way that doesn't leave the reader hanging.
You can learn more about Rebecca, and this series at her website.
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