Genre: SF, YA | Format: eARC | Publisher: Strange Chemistry | Publication date: 1st July 2014 (US/Canada print/ebook); 3rd July 2014 (UK print) | My rating: 5/5
Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She’s smart and deadly and knows three things with absolute certainty.
She knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.
She knows that the only species to thrive there are the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.
Most of all, she knows there’s no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.
Jansin has been lied to. On all counts. Faced with the truth in the form of a charismatic young survivor named Will, Jansin vows that her former masters will regret making her what she is…
Lately, I’ve been making a lot more effort – both as a reviewer and just as a reader – to seek out worthy YA SF/F books to read. So far I’m doing amazingly well, as this debut novel by Kat Ross would seem to attest. It’s dystopian SF, which I admit is another area of genre fiction I’m still exploring, but if this is an example of the standard that’s being set nowadays, then I’m happy to dig deeper…
Let’s start with the book’s premise. After terrifyingly destructive weather phenomena known as hypercanes (giant superstorms, some as big as continents) start to lay waste to the whole freaking world, humanity moves underground in order to survive it.
Naturally, however, survival was not quite that simple. Space limitations being what they are, there had to be a certain amount of culling done when humanity moved below the surface. Visits to the surface are still possible, but the dangers of the hypercanes and the boogeyman-style threat of the toads – freakishly mutant human-frog hybrid creatures – make it inadvisable without good reason.
Yes, I said mutant human-frog hybrids. And yes, there’s a story there, but to tell it would be spoilery and so I won’t – but trust me, it’s creepy as all hell.
However! It’s not quite as bad as government types would have people believe. Cue Jansin Nordqvist, our young protagonist, who gets to be the one to discover the shocking truth.
I liked Jansin a lot. After her family’s visit to the surface goes horribly wrong when their camp is attacked (not by toads, surprise surprise), Jansin is taken by the raiders, who turn out to be exiles, and the descendants of those who were ‘culled’. Those unfortunates were believed not to have survived, and so Jansin receives her first disillusioning revelation. Thanks to her military training, Jansin eventually proves herself useful to the group and avoids simply being killed or abandoned where she was found – and here’s where she starts to really become interesting. It’s made painfully clear that Jansin doesn’t have much in the way of other skills than combat capability, but rather than being another raised-to-obey mindless militant ‘machine’, we see from the start that she’s dissatisfied, and perhaps not as quick to simply buy the party line and blindly follow orders. Indicative of this is the deterioration of her relationship with a boy who seems happy to do precisely that. This leads to some of the creepiest interaction I’ve read in a long time – the contrast between Jansin’s willingness to ask questions and her boyfriend’s near-blind obsession with being the best soldier possible is chillingly effective when it comes to demonstrating what their society has become since going underground.
The interlude segment, as it were, between Jansin’s time on the surface and her inevitable clash with authority back home is deftly and very interestingly handled. Her friendships with the clan who took her in and the deterioration of her fitness following her time on the surface both set Jansin up to have plenty to think about, and plenty of time to think about it before she returns to her old everyday life. She drifts apart from her parents, and her relationship with her boyfriend also falls apart in impressively creepy fashion, as he chooses to believe Jansin has lost her mind rather than accept her insistence that they’ve been deceived. By the time I got to the book’s final act, I was hooked and my sympathies were firmly with Jansin.
And oh, what a final act it was. It’s difficult to say more here without giving the game away, but the pacing and tension levels are cranked well up as Jansin makes her decisions regarding where she belongs, and are marvellously well-maintained from start to thrilling finish.
Okay, I’ll stop rambling here and simply say that Some Fine Day is absolutely worth picking up if you’re into YA, or sci-fi, or both! Kat Ross is one to watch, in my book – and a five-star review for a debut novel speaks for itself, no?
Okay! Now that my rambling is done, here’s the other fun part of this post. Thanks to the fine people at Strange Chemistry, I have right here a chance for one lucky reader to win an ebook copy of Some Fine Day! Before we get to the Rafflecopter goodness, though, here’s the giveaway guidelines bit:
- The giveaway is open internationally.
- Giveaway will run from today (May 26th), and end at midnight on Sunday, June 1st.
- The winner will be selected at random, and contacted within 24 hours of the giveaway ending. The winner will then have 48 hours to respond and claim the prize; if they do not, another winner will be selected. So please be sure to reply!
Right then! On to the good stuff… Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below, and good luck to everybody!