May 30, 2020

 

Book Review - Unique, Ordinary #2 (by Starr Z. Davies)

Title: Unique
Series: Ordinary (book #2)
Author: Starr Z. Davies
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Readers
Publisher: Pangea Books
Release Date: June 2nd, 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 426
 


"He lost everything. His dad, his best friend, and the woman he loves.

Ugene and the other test subjects escaped Paragon. They thought they were finally safe. But the battle for freedom is far from over.


When a rogue group calling themselves the Protectorate offers to help Ugene, he worries that his friends are falling into another dangerous trap. The struggle for freedom becomes a desperate fight for survival. Ugene is determined to stand up for what’s right and save the oppressed citizens of Elpis from persecution by Paragon and the Directorate.


The deeper Ugene digs, the more he uncovers about the Directorate’s sinister secrets, the Protectorate’s true goals... and the dangerous game he is about to play.


It’s time for the deception to end. It’s time for the truth to finally come to the surface…


And it’s time for everyone to finally learn that being Powerless isn’t weakness."

Unique (Ordinary #2)
(read an excerpt on starrzdavies.com)


- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The author described the first book of the "Ordinary" duology as a young adult sci-fi dystopian novel, inspired by her love for superheroes like Batman and Spiderman; Starr Davies also mentioned she gained a reputation as the "Character Assassin", while pursuing a degree in creative writing, for her "habit of utterly destroying her characters emotionally and physically". Having greatly enjoyed book #1 of the series, I was curious to see the conclusion of the story and what laid in store for Ugene and the people of Elpis.


The Plot
After barely escaping with their lives from Paragon Tower, Ugene and the small group of surviving test subjects are taken in by the Protectorate, a group of freedom fighters whose mission is to rescue and protect those targeted by the Directorate and Paragon, expose their lies and take down the system. But after everything he went through at the hands of Dr. Cass and the betrayals suffered during his confinement, Ugene finds it hard to trust anyone. Something about Willow Barnes, the leader of the Protectorate, doesn't feel right and Ugene is suspicious of her true goals.


But with the looming threat of Proposition 9, he is once again faced with a hard choice. Burdened with the responsibility of keeping his companions safe and haunted by feelings of guilt and sorrow over those he lost - close friends, his long time crush Bianca and his own father - joining the cause and help make a better future for all the people of Elpis might be the only way to protect his friends. All he has to guide him is the book left behind by Celeste with another one of her cryptic prophecies: A man who hides behind The Shield is safe. A man who raises The Shield is the Hero. Ugene has been powerless all his life and doesn't feel he's up to the task... but one doesn't need powers to have brains.


The Good
"Unique" is the second and last book of the 'Ordinary' duology, a young adult sci-fi novel set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, told in the first person through the eyes of the main character, a powerless teenage boy living in a world of powered people, struggling to protect his friends while making a stand against a corrupted system. In book #1 ("Ordinary") we were introduced to the seemingly utopian society of Elpis, built after a devastating civil war between humans with enhanced abilities and those without which left the planet a barren place incapable of sustaining life. As more people were being born with weaker powers or succumbing to degenerative diseases, Ugene volunteered as a test subject in Dr. Cass' research to stop Regression, in the hopes of gaining powers of his own and help save his father from a fatal condition. When the research turned out to be both a lie and a life-threatening experiment, Ugene and his fellow test subjects joined forces to fight their way out of the facility.


Book #2 ("Unique") takes up where book #1 left off. The story is once again divided in 3 parts: part 1 introduces the rebel group Protectorate, as Ugene and his fellow survivors take refuge in their hidden base; part 2 shows the impact of Proposition 9 in the impoverish neighborhood of Pax; part 3 follows Ugene as he sets out to expose and stop Directorate Chief Seaduss' plans for the people of Elpis.


The plot is fast-paced, with thrilling action sequences where the rebels fight and evade the Directorate's DMA (Department of Military Affairs) militia forces, and an ongoing mystery with plenty of suspense and political intrigue as Ugene tries to unravel both the Directorate's plans and the Protectorate's true goals. The worldbuilding is complex and imaginative: The Shield, an old underground military base built before the Purge repurposed to offer sanctuary for those sentenced to death by the Directorate; the Consumption Tax and Proposition 9, a controversial law that forces regressing citizens with weak powers and debts to join the military forces; recessive genetic allele mutations and PTPD (post-traumatic powerloss depression), a genetic explanation to how powers are developed... all these elements help build the powered society of Elpis and explore the social and class discrimination of its citizens, moving the plot forward.


The characters are well developed and realistic, with believable motivations and goals, be it survival or pursuit of power at any cost. Ugene in particular shows strong emotional growth throughout the story: from dealing with feelings of guilt over losing so many test subjects during their escape from Paragon Diagnostics, burdened by the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the remaining survivors, overwhelmed by the unwavering trust placed in him and torn between the love of two girls; to his determination to expose the lies told by the Directorate and end a repressive system, to think big and help create a better future for everyone while confronting bullies and ghosts from his past.


All in all, a truly engaging series with a great and satisfying ending.


Final Rating

"Unique" is the second and final book in the 'Ordinary' duology, a young adult sci-fi novel set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, fast-paced with thrilling action sequences, an ongoing mystery and plenty of suspense and political intrigue. Recommended for those who enjoy science fiction and stories about characters with super powers, personal struggles and moral dilemmas.



• • • •


- About the Author -
Website: starrzdavies.com
Twitter: @SZDavies
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
 

STARR Z. DAVIES is a Midwesterner at heart and lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids. From a young age, Starr has been obsessed with superheroes like Batman and Captain America, which inspired her novel, ORDINARY. If Starr had a superpower, she would be an Empath because she is an emotional sponge and easily relates to how others feel.
 

While pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, Starr gained a reputation as the "Character Assassin" because she had a habit of utterly destroying her characters both emotionally and physically.
 

In her free time, Starr loves watching Doctor Who and anything with superheroes, reading books (duh!), writing about her favorite fantasy stories (Song of Ice and Fire, Mistborn, The Wheel of Time), and staring out the window as she dreams up more stories. Oh, and sometimes she steps out the door!
 

5 Fun Facts About Starr:
  1. Starr is short for Starrburst, her given Native American name.
  2. Starr is a big fan of cheesy puns and 5th grade humor and will often laugh at her own jokes before anyone else. Ex: What’s ET short for? Cuz he’s got small legs!
  3. Starr's favorite quote is from Batman Begins (of course, a superhero!): “It’s not who you are, but what you do that defines you.” She tries to live by this ideology.
  4. Starr loves to fantasize about who would star in a film as her characters. In fact, she sometimes “casts” actors on her social media feeds by posting pictures. After seeing Detective Pikachu, no one else but Justice Smith would satisfy her as Ugene.
  5. If she were to choose a superhero whose personality is most like her own, Starr would be Spiderman—nerdy, awkward, and witty, but always eager to do the right thing to help others.
(source: starrzdavies.com)


Previous in the series: Ordinary, Ordinary #1 (book review)

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the great review. I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete

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