The Hunger Games has ushered in the inevitable rush of dystopian works with readers showing an appetite for something darker and edgier. This is a week of dark and twisted reviews, sometimes dystopian and sometimes downright disturbing, but, for all the strangeness, the stories delve into the depths of what it means to be human, from the best to the worst and the flaws in between.
“Don’t fear the end of the world, fear what comes next.”
K. M. Ruiz’ debut title is like X-Men as a post apocalyptic thriller.
The story takes place in a futuristic world ruined by nuclear warfare. The remnants of the world are united, somewhat, to ensure humanity’s survival. Besides the devastation to the environment, human DNA has become corrupted, and now humans are categorized and ranked in a registry by how “clean” their DNA is. The most significant and dangerous genetic deformities produce psychics, called psions. It is a twist on survival of the fittest. Humans, rightfully so, fear the power of the psions, so any psion has to be a registered agent of the Strykers Syndicate, soldiers who come with a short leash, an implant embedded to allow their masters to either discipline or terminate them. World leaders want to save the humans with the cleanest DNA (and who can afford it). It is a Noah’s Ark kind of plan, which would exclude and doom the poor, the unregistered, those with “unclean” DNA, and, of course, the psions. Other players, including rogue psions, are not content with the plans and conspire to crash the party, so it is a roller coaster ride full of thrills and twists to see which side triumphs.
There is a strong resemblance to X-Men---Psychics, fear and mistrust of those who are different, action-packed scenes, powerful abilities, and even a Magneto (or Xavier) figure---but, fear not, Ruiz offers the readers more than superficial plot similarities. Not just adventure and action, Ruiz incorporates a military and political angle to the story. Add to that the huge cast and multiple perspectives to keep readers on their toes. This complicates matters, making the situation more complex and less black and white. It makes it harder to say what is the right thing to do and who is right when the world has changed so much. It is not merely psions gunning for their rights versus the clean humans but several groups with their own agenda and goals. Just about all the main characters have seen too much and gotten their hands dirty too many times to be goody goody heroes of justice and honor. It may be too late to save themselves, but maybe they can leave chances for a better and more fair future for future generations. This story offers interesting and brutal takes on psychics, survival of the fittest, doing the right thing, ends justifying the means, and defining what is human.
Look for Mind Storm on the VBPL Catalog, followed by Terminal Point. For more science fiction with a military angle, try Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (see review). For more brutal dystopian futures with an environmental angle, read Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (see review) and Seed by Rob Ziegler.