Michelle Kenney, Harper Collins
A few weeks ago, an email came through the Leeds Beckett’s University mailing list, one of many, announcing that our alumna has published a book and asking us to sign up for a raffle to get a free copy. Naturally, I once again thought how amazing our University is for always standing side to side with our students, even when they are long gone and no longer customers but just alumni. In many cases, alumni do not have much contact with us, but if they ever call the University jumps to support them. Never stops amazing me.
Moved by University’s kindness I immediately responded to the email and accepted to be included in the raffle to win a free copy and I said I will write this blog to promote the work. As usual, my tongue went before my brain and as soon as I hit send I wanted to slap myself for offering to write a blog.
I do not want to be the one who undermines alumna, but I obviously do not want to compromise integrity of my blog and put my name under some rubbish. This negative sentiment is probably the reason why it took me ages to finish the book. Even though I initially liked it and tweeted about it, I constantly feared it will turn into rubbish so I dragged the reading process.
As it turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. I absolutely loved the book for many reasons. One is that it is totally Netflix material, and archive on this blog clearly testifies where my heart is when TV programme is in stake. The second one is that writing is very real and I was able to imagine characters, i.e. Augustus’ iris blue eyes and olive skin, and feral Talia.
In a nutshell, the world had suffered a great war that destroyed it. But, some survived and are struggling to stay alive. Outsiders created Arafel, a place in woods where they live in tree houses and hunt as little as possible to survive without damaging the nature. On the other hand, there is a big dome where Insiders live convinced that outside world is impossible. With the way events unfold, a few Outsiders end up captured by Insiders and a granddaughter Talia ends up going inside to save her brother and granddad. The world that she discovers is beyond anything she could have imagined. It is a world of genetic engineering organised according to old Roman Empire and its notorious rules and hierarchies. She starts a desperate struggle to beat the powerful and save her family while, at the same time, hiding the secret of the Book of Arafel that could help Insiders and potentially destroy what is left of the world. She gets help from knight Augustus and faces a dilemma that many often face. What comes first, love or family loyalty?
The book is very imaginative and very timely because with everything that is currently happening in the world it would not be beyond imagination to end up in tree houses in some other Arafel. If we are that lucky, that is. But, at the same time, the book also offers hope because the book reminds us that natural life is possible and that we would not die without technology and what ever has world become.
Imaginative, backed up with historical facts, creative and in one word, an absolute pleasure to read.
Thank you for reading.