Friday, June 25, 2010

a review of "Flight of Shadows" [47]

Flight of Shadows: A Novel by Sigmund Brouwer
(WaterBrook Press, ISBN 978-1-4000-7033-6)

Again, we are sometimes in the not so distant future, and the America presented is very different from the world we live in today. As the result of the terrible Water Wars, the country is now divided into three areas. In the far west, supposedly there are still free, unregulated areas of land but in the east, things are quite different. In the Appalachian Mountains, there is a theocracy society, run by a group called Bar Elohim, where every aspect of life is regulated and few freedoms exist. Then, in what is called the Outside, there exists a series of city-states, walled communities where a very different, if no less restrictive society exists. In this world, there are four distinst groups..first there are the Influentials, with the power and money, enjoying  in the safety of their walled, heavily guarded and monitored communities. Then there are the Industrials, marked with the face tattoos that allow them entry into the cities during the day to provide a workforce to the privileged. Those that refuse the tattoos and lack the paperwork to find legal employment, fall into the group called the Illegals, who live outside the walls, eking out a very poor living in all sort of terrible, illegal ways. Finally, there are the Invisibles, those that live under the radar for a variety of reasons..and it is into that last group that our heroine Caitlyn falls.

Caitlyn was raised in Appalachia by her father, a father who helped to keep her secret from being known. Because Caitlyn is different...
"Caitlyn should have felt fear. Instead, she was defiant and cold inside. She was a freak. Alone against the world. No choice in how she existed the way she did. No choice even in the fact of her existence. Aloneness was all she knew and understood now."
To give her the only chance of being 'normal', of getting the surgery that will help keep hidden what she really is, her father helped her and two friends, Billy and Theo, escape to the Outside, hopefully the first step to some sort of real freedom further west.But her escape has not gone unnoticed. On the one hand, she is being persuaded by the government, in the person of Carson Pierce and the quite scary NI security force, on the other by the sadistic bounty hunter Mason Lee. These two men are very different in their ways and motives but both represent groups that realize the incredible value of Caitlyn's unique DNA and will go to great lengths to 'acquire' her.

This is a sequel to Brouwer's 2008 novel Broken Angel and while it is not necessary to have read the first, it does raise a few issues with how this book is written. No doubt, in the first book there was a fair bit of explanation of how this society was set up and we learned a lot about the history of virtually all the characters that again appear in this book. Now, the author is careful to explain to us what we need to know if we have not read the first, but this leads to some rather stilted, lecture like conversations to catch us up. I appreciate what he was trying to do, but I thing the reader would have been better served if we could have been led to discover that information in a more natural way throughout the story.

Secondly, I personally found it difficult to really connect with several of the characters, especially Billy and Theo, but even Caitlyn herself, who should be the center of the book. On the plus side, that leave even more room for the newly introduced character of Razor, who correctly describes himself as "fast, sharp and dangerous". He is a interesting and rather mysterious young man, with his own secrets, secrets that might make him Caitlyn's best ally...or her most dangerous enemy.He is by far the most interesting aspect of this book which is good for the reader but might not be what the author intended.

A rather interesting book, that creates a society that, sadly, does not seem that unbelievable and explores a number of subjects, like the danger of DNA experimentation, the cost of unregulated immigration and a resulting caste-like system and the cost in freedom people will pay for security, in an intriguing way. There are a number of good plot twists, some exciting and unusual chase scenes, a lot of fast paced action and while the book explores some interesting ideas, I do suggest if this one piques your interest, you may be better served starting with the first book in the series.

I received a copy of this book from Library Thing's Early Reviewer program.


  1. I definitely have to be in a dystopian mood, but this one (or series) is appealing, as long as I don't have to work too hard to figure it out. Good review!

  2. I found this one pretty straight forward as this genre goes.

  3. It does sound interesting. I have another book about water shortages in the future, so I guess that's what authors think we're headed toward.


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