Way back in August, The Book Smugglers held their fantastic YA Appreciation month in which I furiously scribbled down book after book that I wanted to get to know better. Then they began spotlighting dystopian and post-apocalypse books over and over again and I began to feel a little faint. Literally. If you don't already know of my severe weakness for anything dystopian - I'll say it now loud and clear. I'm an unashamed addict and after reading Ana and Thea's glowing recommendations for the Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody, I was sold. Bought and paid for. I then and there began plotting on how to get a hold of the series before my curiosity did me in. And let's just say, my efforts paid off in full.
Following the devastating nuclear fallout known as the Great White, wherein humans basically tried to destroy each other, only small pockets of civilizations remained on the barren and poisoned earth. Each civilization had to find a way of controlling their panicked citizens which eventually lead to the establishment of the Council of farmers, a group who by their strict governing have most people too scared to even think about stepping out of line. Since you have all that nuclear radiation floating around, human mutations have started to pop up everywhere and are not exactly popular with the Council. Any person suspected of having a mutation (real or imagined) is either put to death, or if caught in their youth, sent to a civilization shrouded in secrecy called Obernewtyn - established specifically for misfits. Elspeth Gordie just happens to be more scared of the Council than most - her mutation is one she's never even heard of and the thought of being discovered is enough to make her steer clear of potential friendships or informers. Not only does Elspeth have the 'common' problem of her dreams turning into actuality, but she can talk with animals; animals who mistrust humans in general but who also possess memories of the time before the Great White. She's also got some other serious undisclosed 'talents' that would definitely label her as Public Enemy No.1, so I see nothing wrong with being a little closed off. Unfortunately, Elspeth does find herself competely out of sorts after a not-so-chance encounter with Obernewtyn's misfit-finder resulting in her too-quick removal to that infamous settlement.
Now, Ms. Carmody could have stopped Elspeth's story right there and it would have been just dandy. But oh nos - she keeps going: firmly placing the restrained and self-contained Elspeth into a world where every person is shrouded in secrecy and around each corner is another creepy misfit that had the hairs on the back of my neck permanently standing on end. Maybe just a little out of her comfort zone, but Elspeth rises to the challenge and many fantastic cloak-and-dagger moments ensue. Add in a potential love interest and I was hooked for good. There is so much going on in the background as well - Elspeth's mental link with the moody cat Maurman (when are cats not fickle and moody?), the distrust of all technology and books - not even to mention the ever-increasing underground movement to overthrow the Council's control. All combined, it makes for some pretty compelling reading and I seriously cannot wait to return to Elspeth's world in book two, Farseekers.
series reading order:
~ The Keeping Place
~ The Stone Key
~ The Sending (2010)
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Fantasy Book Review
I Was a Teenage Book Geek review
SF Site review
Terra on the Bookshelf review
book source: my local library