Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking dystopia that addresses actual problems in society., 7 July 2014
This review is from: Noble Conflict (Paperback)
SYNOPSIS
Set in a future society, there are two groups of people: The expansionist Crusaders and the peaceful Alliance.
By triggering nuclear explosives within the earth in order to shift the tectonic plates and to expand their territory, the Crusaders had destroyed large areas of land, causing most of their people to die. The survivors were forced to live as nomads on the volcanic wasteland they had created.
After their population number has recovered 200 years later, the Crusaders form a group of fighters called the Insurgents to forcefully take the land of the Alliance.

Kaspar Wilding is a graduate of the Guardian Academy, whose job it is to protect the citizens of the Alliance from terrorist attacks of the Insurgents with the use of non-lethal weapons. All his life, he has thought that he was fighting for a good cause, until he meets an Insurgent named Rhea, who saves his life and causes him to question his beliefs.

MY OPINION
The outset of this story is captivating: Blackman depicts a world that is not only gloomy and shaped by the military and a lenghty war, but it also seems realistic. It was interesting to learn more about the conflict that leads adolescents to consider it an honour to serve their people as Guardians. The reader obtains further background information on the conflict between the two cultures through excerpts from fictitious historical texts, which I thought was very well done.

The hero of the story is a 19-year-old orphan named Kaspar who has lived on his uncle’s farm for most of his life. He is sympathetic, because he is ambitious and strong-willed and seeks to accomplish his goals by his own effort. I could relate to him to some extent, but not completey, as he is a male soldier.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel at first. I initially thought that it was a critique on technology and humans tampering with nature. But that’s not the main issue.
In the first half of the book, there is no communication between the two groups and they take no action to end the war. So because I didn’t see the chain of Insurgent attacks leading to anything, it felt like there was no real climax of suspense. However, that changes in the second half of the book.

As more suspicions arise and Kaspar begins to uncover the truth about the Insurgents and the Alliance, things start to get really interesting.
The lines between good and evil begin to blur, and Kaspar realises that life is not guns and roses. The novel is cleverly constructed and thought-provoking to the effect that it makes you question people’s motives for their actions. Who benefits from war and who suffers? Do we actually know what’s going on around us or do we close our eyes to the truth out of convenience? It also encourages readers to look beneath the surface, and to see that not everything that looks harmless at first glance is actually good.

Malorie Blackman’s writing style is smart and engaging: She keeps a fine balance between subtle humour and action-packed scenes. I’m glad that I read the book, and I’ll make sure to read her Noughts & Crosses series next!

If you are looking for a young adult dystopia that addresses actual problems in society instead of losing itself in a pointless romance, look no further.

NOTE: This review can also be found on my blog, bibliophilic geek.
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