dissent: RENEGADES is the debut novel of author, R.J. Furness and will be released on November 1st 2017
The Great Freeze changed everything…
“Ellie loved riding the orgo. She had often dreamt about it since being a small child. Now that her father wasn’t around to voice his opinions, she finally could. Twenty years had been a long time to wait.”
Centuries from now, during a new ice age, only three human colonies are known to exist. Scorr Tanta, the first city, is vast and resourceful, whereas Eklips is more desolate. Ellie, on the other hand, works in Port Harmony; a harbour town. As an apprentice orgo-keeper, the only highlight is getting to ride the animals that she cares for. Then, a chance skirmish at the market draws her closer to Haylee and her friends, and everything begins to change. Desperate to join them, Ellie has heard many tales about Haylee and her group of renowned warriors. What she doesn’t know, is how much danger follows them. Ellie is soon tugged into a much different world than she had first assumed. A world built on dissent, and filled with secrets.
Ellie’s body had deadened, but from within she was screaming. It was a cry for help that not a soul could hear.
Hundreds of years in the future, in an ice-age complete with animals and humans alike who have had to evolve over time in order to endure, “The Union’ has emerged. A new order in the icy-dystopia, where humans have once again banded together to survive any way possible. But where one would rule, there is always those who will dissent.
Renegades is told from the perspective of many characters, though concentrating on a few central ones for the majority. Changing point of view every chapter revealed each character’s motivations, and helped underscore the extent of what was going on.
Furness has done a credible job world-building, and you really get a good sense of the scale his imagination is working on. It was a little disappointing, as a result, not to get more detail on the history of this new world. I wanted to be really immersed in the culture and history, but our characters were frustratingly close-lipped on the topic. It didn’t seem to be a case of the writer not knowing the history but, perhaps more frustratingly, it seemed to be well known and mapped out–just not shared with the reader. This may be a tactic to build curiosity and suspense for future novels, but I found it distracting not to fully understand where the characters were really coming from, experience-wise.
Our main character, Ellie, is left as a bit of an enigma for the first 3/4 of the book. When we are introduced to her, she seems to be a flighty young girl, with a crush on an unavailable guy and not much sense. She also has an unhealthy obsession with a group of young people who seem to spell out T-R-O-U-B-L-E in neon flashing lights. It is easy to write this obsession off as a very silly young woman’s desire for adventure and well, trouble. Easy, because we are given very little introspection with Ellie, and almost zero background. It is hinted at that she was recently uprooted, and she doesn’t have any family around…but her feelings on the topic are a mystery.
I found the creatures populating the book to be fascinating, and would love more detailed breakdown of how (and from what) they evolved. The orgo, featured on the cover and heavily within the novel, seemed to be a mix or horse and ostrich (sans wings, sadly), which you might not think would work…but strangely it did. Furness did a good job of using these creatures to underscore certain elements of the book -especially when using the ‘gliders’, a bird that gave off a very vulture-like feel, to herald the arrival of one of the antagonists.
Speaking of antagonists, but not that one, let’s talk about our big baddie- Rada. Leader (ruler? dictator? queen?) of The Union, Rada is an interesting bag of mixed nuts. She is obsessed with the strength of her reign, and will tolerate no weakness from her subordinates, nor questioning from her subjects. She was actually one of the more compelling characters as, yet again, a very interesting past is hinted at, but not revealed. She seems to have very little humanity in her, yet seems to engender loyalty from her subjects without even trying. And when she does try? Let’s just say, watch out Renegades. For an antagonist that sits in her stronghold, far away from the actual conflict, she certainly has her claws dug in to every little thing going on. I liked that she was sharply intelligent, and had back up plans in place constantly. Where is the glory in winning, if your opponent is stupid?
Our other baddie, yes the one with the gliders, had me at once confused and disgusted. Let’s call it disgruntled. Kayden was your typical ruthless, violent, easy-target villain. He likes to beat his slaves, kill adorable fluffy creatures and is on a war path to capture and enslave a (relatively) innocent woman. But then there is this one, super awkward, moment when he treats his slave (recovering from his own abuse) with some sort of strange Stockholm Syndrome-esque kindness that has you all confused..until he kills one of the aforementioned fluffy creatures and is back to his normal self. Did I say Rada was nuts? Because Kayden must be from the same bag.
As I mentioned before, 3/4 of the way through the book, we get the big spoiler-ridden reveal, that explains quite a bit. I won’t say much more on the topic, so you can be nice and surprised when you read it, but I will say that it really worked well for the story. Also, it very nearly snuck up on me, which is a high compliment indeed. I’m pretty good at following plot points and foreshadowing (I knew who Cedric would turn out to be!) but this one reveal was nearly upon me before I figured it out. (Bad Shannon! *slaps own hand*)
This novel’s strengths lie in its action scenes. Suspense was well built, and the action itself was easy to imagine. Scenes of conflict or fleeing had me turning the pages rapidly, totally engrossed in the story. Quiet moments for the characters tended to highlight awkward dialogue, or missing exposition.
Overall, this was an interesting read. I think Furness has created a compelling world, and would really like to know more about how it came to be, and how it operates. This novel felt like a teaser, just the lead in for a much longer series. In that sense, it did its job and made me curious. I think the characters have a lot of developing to do, and plenty of room to open up and bring us deeper into their world. Clearly, a large conflict is brewing in The Union, and I think the dissent will spread rapidly.
Check out dissent: RENEGADES on Amazon.
Or head over to R.J. Furness’ Website.