YA Dystopian


Published: February 29, 2016
Author's Twitter: @LeadvilleLaurel
In a post-cataclysmic world threatened by stinking ooze, a brave girl searches for her missing parents with the help of talking animals and evolving powers. When a mountain spirit challenges her to save the planet, she and a flying frog must overcome a magical, malicious castle of sand and a shapeshifter who wants her dead.

4 Stars

Waterwight by Laurel McHargue is a dystopian fantasy adventure about an orphan named Celeste who must go on a quest to stop a mysterious ooze that is infecting what’s left of her world. While this might be considered a post-apocalyptic story, the “Event” that caused the world to be in the state that we find it is left shrouded in mystery, as are a lot of other elements in the book. As the first book in a series, it is forgivable to leave some puzzles to be solved down the road, but some readers might find the lack of direct information limiting in some ways. The book reads like a hallucination, and readers who are interested in the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things might find some frustration. The imaginative experience we are presented with compensates for the lack of answers with likable characters and inventive conflicts.
The writing itself is fluid and accessible, and it’s clear that McHargue is a poet as well as a teacher. Many lines of the story caught my attention, and the author has a way of drawing beauty out of even the most grotesque imagery. McHargue has a gift for language (more than one are featured in this work) and writing engaging dialogue, and I found myself empathizing with Celeste easily. The secondary characters, too, are enjoyable – Sharon and Orville are standouts – although not as fleshed out as I would have liked. Without giving too much away, developments later in the story suddenly add to and elaborate on many facets of who Celeste and the secondary characters are. While to some it could be likened to a superhero or arthurian origin-story, to others it could seem like a prologue without enough detail to fully set up an entire universe or a broader quest-line. With that said, there is enough intriguing stuff going on in this work to keep the reader invested until the end. The finale is satisfactory for the first entry in a series, but again leaves behind more questions than answers.
If you’re a reader who loves a little mystery in your fantasy and are looking for a book with adventure, magic, likable characters and an interesting world, Waterwight is a solid beginning to a series that promises more to come from Celeste and her friends. I give Waterwight 4 stars, but it should be noted that Awesome Indies recommends this book at 4 stars for young adult readers.


Western Desert

Western Desert
In post-apocalyptic 2057, genetically enhanced teens Lily Carmichael and Will Callahan must journey across a sun-ravaged U.S. to the Western desert on a dangerous rescue mission.   WESTERN DESERT, Book Two in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, takes off where WANING MOON ends. Genetically enhanced sixteen-year-old Lily Carmichael, and seventeen-year-old Will Callahan embark on a journey across a sun-ravaged and decimated US in the year 2057, bound for the Western Desert on a dangerous rescue mission. The survivors they meet along the way put Lily’s healing abilities to the test and challenge Will’s resolve to find his missing father—no matter the cost. But even with the burden of life and death on their shoulders, and the Industry hot on their trail, the greatest challenge they face is trusting their hearts to each other.









Come on Home Children

Come on Home Children
Published: July 5, 2014
Author's Twitter: @Entlover28
In the year 2042, when an unlicensed pregnancy is a felony, Willa’s little daughter Katy has been confiscated by the ruthless Bureau of Population Management. Unless Willa can rescue her she faces a life of stigma, toil and despair. With the help of some unlikely allies, Willa devises an audacious scheme to hide in plain sight and free Katy, but it will only work if she can find the courage to reinvent herself. When no one is what they seem, the truth can be a dangerous luxury. Come on Home Children, Book Two of Children in Hiding, is a dystopian thriller that tests whether love can outwit bureaucratic greed, and whether Willa can tread the treacherous path between reality and illusion.










Get on Board Little Children

Get on Board Little Children
Published: January 13, 2014
Author's Twitter: @Entlover27
In a future marked by high-tech surveillance, an unlicensed pregnancy is a felony. It can lead to loss of the child as well as devastating fines and imprisonment. Targeted by the corrupt population-control police, Sophie must make a painful decision. She can submit to the state’s harsh demands. Or she can go on the run, relying on the conductors of the revived Underground Railway. Confronted with deception and violence, she must learn to trust her instincts. If she hesitates she risks the loss of everything she values most. Fast-paced dystopian thriller, GET ON BOARD LITTLE CHILDREN takes the heroine from the drone-watched streets of Seattle to the dangerous Tijuana border, while exploring a future that may be closer than we imagine.

Review by Awesome Indies

A damn fine story that is extremely well-told


When greedy, unscrupulous politicians with ideological agendas and little compassion for their fellow man start to sneak laws into our system to advance that agenda – we’d better beware. Citizens who pay no attention to what politicians do can easily wake up and find themselves under the yoke of a police state and creeping totalitarianism.

IGet on Board Little Children by Victoria Randall, we’re immersed head first in just such a state. The United States has enacted strict population control measures and left it to the states to implement them. Each state has its own views, and some, like the state of Washington, have adopted draconian procedures, up to and including a Bureau of Population Management. In order to legally have children, people must obtain a permit – an expensive and time consuming process – or risk fines and imprisonment, forced abortion, or if the child is born without permit, having it consigned to a labor camp. In order to enforce this, a police state of sorts has been created, complete with officious bureaucrats and scheming politicians drunk on the power they possess.

Sophie Cortez and her husband Joshua find themselves caught up in this byzantine situation when she becomes pregnant with twins. When Sophie and Joshua make the decision to run, they’re taken under the wings of BirthAid, an organization that runs a 21st century version of the Underground Railroad that takes immense risks to get them to safety.

Randall has created a compelling cast of characters – many that readers will recognize and identify with, or hate. The beleaguered citizen fighting to maintain a sense of dignity and self-worth: Sophie and Joshua; the uncaring bureaucrat concerned with exercising power and maintaining position: the Bureau of Population Management officials; and those who, when they see someone in need, are willing to step up and be counted.

It’s hard to decide if this is science fiction or thriller, so I just settled with calling it a damn fine story that is extremely well-told. It starts slow, with rising tension that comes to a gentle landing that is satisfying.

This is a book that, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, addresses an important social issue – in this case, individual freedom in the face of efforts at state control – and could like Stowe’s masterpiece become the symbol of this century’s most important struggle.





As Lily’s abilities grow, can she fight her instinct to protect and heal the world, while taking down the madman bent on destroying it? After a failed rescue attempt, and no home to return to, Lily and Will reunite to join with her uncle and his Network of rebels, taking on Vice President Malevich and his army of agents, drones, and Guardians. With Malevich enslaving the city-dwellers who depend on the New Government for their survival—he’s made it clear he will eliminate anyone who stands in his way. Leading the rebellion while staying one step ahead of the Industry takes Lily, Will, and their friends on a harrowing journey from the desert southwest to the new Capitol in Chicago, where they’ll face a fight to the death. But Lily’s greatest gift—her driving instinct to heal and protect—may also be her greatest enemy. As Lily’s abilities grow, can she do what it takes to save humanity, while taking down the madman bent on destroying it?











Waning Moon
In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a polar shift threatens the survivors of a widespread pandemic with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey to the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities. Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the tension between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put Lily in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.