Recommendation Tuesday: Dust Chronicles Series by Maureen McGowan
Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. Basically, this is my way of making Tuesday a little more awesome. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @FullShelves and I'll help spread the word.
If I were to make a list of novels for people who really love the X-Men movies, but are fed the hell up with the ridiculously thin characterization of the women, Maureen McGowan's Dust Chronicles trilogy would be high on that list.
I should probably revitalize my Listorama series and make that list, actually.
I really love action movies (the Bourne movies--the first three, the most recent doesn't count--being my favorites), and in a lot of ways Deviants, Compliance and Glory are a book version of a satisfying action movie. I mean this as a compliment.
Good action flicks have great fight scenes, chases, battles of good versus evil and hopefully a nice explosion or two. But they've also got a nice amount of emotion and human drama and hopefully a bit of social commentary (look at all the undertones of an exploration of the natural of free will and identity in the aforementioned Bourne movies). The Dust Chronicles hits exactly all those notes.
The series is set in a futuristic world that's barely survived an apocalyptic event. Astroids crashed into Earth, coating it with dust that's so toxic that ingesting it turns humans into Shredders, violent, addicted fiends. Generations later, the remaining humans live under a dome called Haven, which is controlled by a mega-corporation.
Work assignments, food, everything is controlled by this company. Even dating is more of a human resources issue with licenses and genetic testing being regulated by the corporation's personnel department. Plus, Haven's dome has become increasingly crowded as generations populate every corner, rooftops, fire escapes are all residences. A walk-in closet is a spacious home for a family.
Glory, the first-person narrator, is a teenager in Haven who is secretly what's feared the most: a Deviant. Deviants are genetically-mutated humans (akin to X-Men mutants), and Glory's deviance is the ability to kill with her mind. In fact, the first book opens with her killing rats with her mind because food is so scarce, since she's hiding her Deviant younger brother after their parents died.
One of the things that was interesting to me is how early on in the story, Glory is so unquestioning, never considering if there's more than what she knows. At first this annoyed me, but then it's revealed that she's third-generation living in this society, under a dome with Management creating an entire narrative for their society's history and reality and it makes sense that she's unquestioning.
As the first book progresses, and then the subsequent books unfold and Glory becomes inquisitive, really thinking about what she believes and wants, I was thrilled for Glory, even though her life becomes far more difficult. And that's really what this series is all about: Making decisions not because they're easy, but because they're hard.
He looks down, but I know what I saw, what I felt. My heart and lungs expand to fill my chest. What Burn and I have isn’t easy or comfortable, but we can’t give up—not without trying. There’s got to be a way.
For example, this series has a love triangle. The Dust Chronicles is a well done love triangle, because it's not simply a situational one, but a metaphorical one.
Both possibilities (one a boy--Cal, who's training to become a Compliance Officer--she's loved most of her life, the other a new guy, Burn, a Hulk-like Deviant who's lived his life outside Haven) are good ones, and they each represent Glory's potential life paths. One is safe, comfortable and a sure thing, the other is scary, challenging and an unknown quantity. I was happy with her choice, and think it made sense for Glory's character and who she ended up becoming, but I would have been equally happy if she wound up with the other guy, if the events of the series had gone in a different direction.
But I do not want to take part in a war. The things the FA and the rebels were doing—bombs, sabotage, hurting innocent people—I want no part of it.
Glory also wrestles with how to use her Deviance, what she feels is morally right for her, which again, is good metaphorical stuff. And it's not a stretch to read the way Management portrays Deviants, the aggressive othering to consolidate and maintain power, as not unlike our contemporary culture.
Reviews of this series have been all over the place, and I don't think it's one for everyone, just like, you know, every other book ever.
This is a series for readers who like lots of action and big moments. It's great for folks who like series such as Divergent or Legend (neither of which I liked, to be honest) but also for people who dig superhero-type stories (like I do).
Note: This series is really cheap in ebook form, $3.99, and is available in the Kindle Owners Library & through Kindle Unlimited.
Disclosure: I have been known to chat with the author on Twitter about Friday Night Lights.