Author: Joanne Armstrong
Series: Unworthy 01
Read Type: Author Request
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“What about the Sickness?” I ask more calmly, turning back to the wide ocean and squinting, as though I can see particles of disease like pollen in the air. “Is it still out there?”
He rubs his chin thoughtfully. “Now that is a more interesting question.” It’s clear he doesn’t know the answer, but looks at me speculatively. “If you assumed it was still out there, circulating, what would you do?”
“I suppose I would do everything I could to prepare myself to fight it.”
He nods thoughtfully. “Preparation is always a good thing.”
We stand for a moment in silence, looking out to sea. I’m imagining a black cloud approaching, like a swarm of locusts, and wondering how I would prepare myself to fight a disease.
Nearly two hundred years after a killer disease swept the planet, an island nation continues its isolated survival due to the ruthless dedication of the military. The laws and culture of the country are based on the survival of the fittest, distrust of disease, and tight control of the general population.
Marked at birth as “Unworthy” to be raised, a young woman questions the necessity for the cruel practice, so many years after the Isolation was declared. She embarks on a journey which will uncover truths about her past and about her society which she could never have imagined.
Previously a full-time primary teacher, I have fifteen years of teaching experience with students of various ages from 7 - 15. I currently teach one day a week and spend the rest of the time either with my two children or writing.
My parents tell me they always knew I'd write a book one day, which surprises and delights me, since I certainly didn't know it myself.
A New Zealander by birth, my formative years were spent in some interesting places, and I completed my B.Ed in Art and Education at Cambridge in the UK. I now live in the South Island of New Zealand, which, after close scrutiny of a few other places as a child, I have decided is simply where my soul resides. I get to wake up to the sound of bellbirds every day.
Unworthy is my first novel and I intend it to be closely followed by my second.
Strong language: Some, mild
Sexual content: None
I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an unbiased review
Imagine you live in a world that was ravaged by a sickness that killed off most of the population. The military of your land isolated it from the rest of the world to protect your people. For a long time you lived feral, wandering the land, fighting and killing at will to survive.
Then the Polis come along and set up hubs, polis controlled communities, where you get food, shelter and medicine, as long as you put work in to bring in your share of food, clothes, medicine and other essentials. There are rules, many are required to spend time working as the Polis, and there are severe punishments for those who disobey rules. But if you toe the line, it's an easy life and safe from savages and disease.
That is unless you are one of the Unworthy…
The weak are heavily frowned upon in the country, and few that show symptoms of illness survive their first night. This is not due to poor care however, but a harsh and ritualistic checking of babies. After a vaccine is admitted, any that show illness are then left out in the cold in the wild for the night. Not only must the baby survive the weather, but also the wild animals. Even those few that do survive, assuming the continue to survive, are ostracised by society.
This is what happened to Arcadia as a baby, now she takes it upon herself to do what little she can for those like her. While she may not be able to wrap the babies up without leaving a trace she can at least ensure wild animals are kept at bay, all while risking her own hide if what she did was discovered. Her grandfather, her carer, has brought her up to believe there are no limits to what she can accomplish, and she sure lives up to this!
Yet catastrophe strikes and a Polis soldier turns up on her door in the same day demanding she go with him without explanation or goodbyes. Her world is shattered. How much of what she has been taught, of what has been drilled into her, is real? Can this soldier be trusted? And can she escape, because you sure don't get called to the City for a pat on the back!
Most of the book is about the journey to the Polis headquarters, one that has to be made in secret, without even the knowledge of their own troops, causing a round-about and difficult route. Meanwhile, Arcadia is constantly trying to find ways to get away from her guard dog, Captain Alex Hayes. To head for the mountains, across the plains, or just pick the route he'd find the hardest to track. Yet, despite the endless travel the story never gets boring, there is always danger, and the soldier, who Arcadia slowly becomes closer to, shatters everything she thought she knew of her world, piece by piece.
As much as she tries to ignore it, feelings for this dangerous man are brewing, and she has no idea what to do.
A climactic ending with a massive cliff hanger, I hope to see the sequel soon,
Danger, adventure and a complex world. This reminded me of the dystopian segregated set up of the world of the Hunger games, mixed with the complex world building and people control of Brave New World. While I've yet to read the Divergent series from the blurbs I can see where people who say there are similarities are coming from.
A well built and thought out dystopian world, while it clearly takes ideas from other books it add plenty of its own, making a unique scenario. The story is fast with adventure, danger, discovery of the world and emotions running rampant. At times I would have liked the story to slow down a bit to allow me to digest the latest revelation, but the pace kept up the element of danger.
While this novel is aimed at the Young Adult market, it manages to do so without talking down to the reader, and I think adults will find plenty of interest here.
Overall a good all rounder, with an ending that compels me to want to read the sequel.
I give this novel a 5