Monday, March 3, 2014

The Severed Tower by J. Barton Mitchell

Series: The Conquered Earth Trilogy (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi/Fantasy

Subjects: survival, adventure, post-apocalyptic, aliens

Setting: Near-future, along the Missouri River and in the Strange Lands, in South Dakota near the Black Hills, and North Dakota

POV/Tense: 3rd person POV from Mira, Holt, Zoey and various other POVs.

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 388 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $18.99

Publisher: Macmillan: St. Martin’s Griffin

Summary/ product description: “Holt, Mira, and Max have fled Midnight City with Zoey after watching her repel an entire Assembly army. Zoey's powers are unlocked, but who and what she is remains a mystery. All she knows is that she must reach the Severed Tower, an infamous location in the middle of the world's most dangerous landscape: The Strange Lands, a place where the laws of physics have completely broken down. But the closer they get to the Tower, the more precarious things become. The Assembly has pursued Zoey into the Strange Lands. Among them is a new group, their walkers and machines strangely bereft of any color, stripped to bare metal, and whose agenda seems to differ from the rest. To make matters worse, the group hunting Holt are here, too, led by a dangerous and beautiful pirate named Ravan. So is Mira's first love, Benjamin Aubertine, whose singular ambition to reach the Tower threatens to get them all killed.

Then there's the Strange Lands themselves. They have inexplicably begun to grow, spreading outwards, becoming more powerful. Somehow, it all seems tied to Zoey herself, and the closer she gets to the Tower, the weaker she becomes.”

My Review: As a sequel, this book wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. I wanted to like it, but it was just okay, and sometimes not that engaging. The book is full of interesting things, but the writing style itself is not that easy to read. The typography is so small that it’s hard not to skim the book. I really wish I could read them as an e-book instead, but then I read the e-novella Winterbay and I still didn’t enjoy it that much. 3rd person POV with to many perspectives is not my thing.

I do like the world building. It’s unique. It’s not the Alien stuff I expected, but it’s cool. I read the first book last year and felt the same way. It’s a lot more paranormal than sci-fi, but there are some scientific theories behind why the Strange Land exist. The aliens them selves are kind of like War of the Worlds tripod, and Transformers. I think the aliens are a race of energy beings that can take over machines and they have robot bodies. It’s an odd idea. The idea of artifacts that have properties like they’re magic or something is pretty odd in a sci-fi series too.

The characters aren’t that bad. I still wish it was in first person POV. Mira’s pretty unique and she’s a freebooter and knows how to use artifacts and make combinations. It’s kind of like being a witch, but she doesn’t have any powers. Holt seems tough, but also loyal and cares for others. Zoey is sweet and too smart for her age and she has powers. Max is a dog, and Zoey calls him The Max. Ben is like a psychopath with no guilt or strong feelings, but he a math genius and sees the world analytically and mathematically. Ravan was always acting tough and still liked Holt. We also got to meet the White Helixes, who are kind of like ninjas/samaris that live in the Strange Lands.

There’s definitely a lot of adventure. It’s kind of like a video game, travel through the Strange Lands. There’re different rings, which are like level. There’s different Anomalies in each ring, but now apparently these anomalies are not where they’re supposed to be. All kinds of weird weather that effects people on a molecular level and dark matter and all kind of things that can disintegrate you with contact. It reminded me of Under The Never Sky with the aether storms.

The Strange Lands are in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana, supposedly 200 sq miles. One place mentioned in the book is an Air Force base in South Dakota. I’ve been to SD twice, and on my 2008 trip I visited Ellison Air Force Base and it’s museum. We even got to see inside the decommissioned missile silo that is mentioned in the book. Apparently there was dark matter there because there used to be radiation there before the Strange Lands were created. It was a cool museum, and it’s great that the book mentioned it.

The ending of this book was probably more interesting than most of the book. I liked the parts of the story told from Zoey perspective. She’s only 9, but she’s pretty smart. She has abilities and apparently came from the Strange Lands, and the Tower affected her. We get to learn more about what she is. The third book, Valley of Fires, could be really interesting. I’m hoping this series could end in epic proportions and make up for the fact that the first two books I mostly skimmed. When interesting stuff happened, I had no trouble reading it. I’ll see this series through till the end.

I recommend this series if you liked; Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Icons by Margaret Stohl, These Broken Stars, The 5th Wave, and Defiance by C.J. Redwine.

Cover Art Review: I like the landscape and silhouettes and the type and helix symbol. It’s a very dystopian-esq cover.

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