For this review I've chosen a book that's not quite out yet, but I'm very excited to have had an opportunity to read and review it in advance. I've read another story by this author and I'm really excited to see her evolution since her first published book, Escalators.
The Cleansing begins in the United States in the near future, and takes place a few years after natural disasters decimated the country and left the majority of the population dead. The nation is now predominantly occupied by citizens born in another country, and natural-born citizens are now looked on with prejudice and in some cases disdain and hatred.
This dystopian society is now centrally focused on preventing any further pollution, which contributed to the natural disasters that shook the foundations of the world itself. This also means the natural-born citizens are looked at like they are variable "enemies of the planet" and the sole reason for the devastating disasters.
The story follows husband and wife John and Annie; two average Americans trying to be just that. John, the ex-soldier, had a distrusting attitude towards the government, while Annie tends to take things in stride and make the best of things as they are. These differing attitudes greatly affects the opening of the story as they're ripped out of their homes and forced to a "reeducation" center for natural-born American citizens.
As they exit their homes John is quickly arrested for resisting and carrying a firearm, and Annie finds herself without him. The distrust in the government is apparent in all the citizens as Annie floats between speaking with neighbors, and family members as their individual experiences are recanted.
The story begins to unfold more as the classes finish up and the true nature of things are revealed, in a way that you can't predict. At first glance it seems as though Evans is going with a cliché dystopian world that is leaning towards genocide, but things develop in a way you don't expect.
There is an even bigger twist when John and Annie are given news they had waited on for as long as they'd been married, and even longer for Annie. This news forces a new set of rules as they try and begin new lives, with the help of a certain underground group that is less fighting back and more or less protecting their own natural-born American brothers and sisters.
The story is one that is ever changing throughout, and constantly evolves within itself. It does, however, have one underlying central theme that it references in several different parts of the story from the beginning to the end. The way John and Annie rely and fall back on each other seems to say "love can conquer and hold you up through anything".
Throughout this story there are many positive notes that make it shine, though narrowing them down was a bit difficult:
- You can really feel how Evans put herself into Annie. The emotion that comes from her can really be felt as the story progresses.
- The story flows well and moves from one intense scene to the next, but it still maintains a strong developing story throughout.
- The characters themselves feel real and down to earth, but at the same time their emotions seem larger than life.
- The story begins with a big action sequence full of soldiers, guns and a small amount of violence, yet it feels like it moves a bit slow. This only lasts for the first few pages, and though it seems to develop a little slowly its the only part that comes off that way.
Overall I'm going to give The Cleansing a solid 8/10 based on:
9/10 for readability- The story flows very well throughout, and the chapter transitions are very smooth.
8/10 for story- I love the combination of dystopian and romance in an adult story. The 'Native American' spin in a wonderfully modern way that alone makes this worth the read.
8/10 for characters- I've already mentioned how big a fan of the character Annie due to the emotional connection you get from her. The other characters are also all very well done and each one is very distinct from one another.
9/10 for emotional connection- Besides the emotional feeling you get from the characters, the story itself keeps you vested in it. Whether its the determination in the 'underground group', the desperation of the Americans, or the hatred and malice from the soldiers, the story is full of emotion and that alone keeps you vested throughout the story.
I have to give a big thank you to Danielle for giving me an opportunity to read and review her story. As I said earlier I will be posting a follow-up review once her story is complete and published (which I'm told will be soon).