Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Alice in No-Man's-Land by James Knapp

Title: Alice in No-Man's-Land 
Author: James Knapp
Genre: Dystopain, New Adult
Series: N/A

E-book, 375 Pages
Publication: May 13, 2015 by Curtis Brown Unlimited 

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review. 


Alice Walshe has led a very charmed life, until now.

Twenty years after a pandemic crippled the country things are finally back on track and her father, a major player at real estate giant Cerulean Holdings, has made billions renewing the pockets of urban decay that were left behind. As his protégé she has accompanied him to one such area named Ypsilanti Bloc, a particularly valuable site due to its proximity to a major thriving city. When their airship is attacked by Ypsilanti's biggest militia, however, Alice and her brother Cody only barely escape and end up as the sole survivors of the crash.

Alice emerges from the drop ship to find herself trapped in the very Bloc that her father was meant to re-purpose - a ruined city that militias, gangs, and even cannibals now call home. She is discovered by a pair of teens who have tracked the wreck hoping to scavenge anything useful, and with few options open to her she employs their help to find her brother and get home. Things grow more complicated, however, when she realizes that the attack may not have been random, and that Cerulean’s renewal project may not be as benign as she had been brought up to believe.
Alice in No-Man’s-Land is a New Adult-Dystopian novel set in the future as humanity rebuilds from a devastating virus. There are two types of people that inhabit the world, the haves and have-nots, and Alice is in the former group. Alice is being groomed to take over her father’s business, a job that specializes in reclamation and renewal. While on an airship going into the Ypsilanti Bloc, a ravaged slum area with her family; their airship gets shot down by Ypsilanti militants leaving Alice stranded and her brother, Cody missing. With the help of two savvy street rats, Alice is able to navigate the desolate strange land in search of her little brother, only to discover the government been lying and keeping secrets on what’s been is going in the Bloc.

This book is darker, grittier and more violent than any other dystopian I’ve read but it suits the world and characters that Knapp has created. I thought the world building was well-done; I could visualize Alice and Cody’s pod being ejected from the crashing airship, The Las Costras gang with their bald heads and tattooed bodies, and the Yagas (cannibal) chained up in the basement. The only thing that I wish was better explained is Cerulean and what Yuric Walshe did, since I’m still not 100% sure what Yuric’s job entailed. As for the characters, they were fully developed and everyone had a distinctive personality. At the beginning of the story, Alice was a naive and sheltered girl barely into adulthood. She’s from the upper-class and was provided for all her life, so when she crashed into Ypsilanti she was in for a serious rude awakening. I loved seeing Alice’s growth over the short period. She went from a clueless 'princess' to someone who isn’t afraid to fight back or fight for others who couldn’t fend for themselves. When people met Alice, they dismissed her right away because she’s a girl and because she’s one of the privileged (Glass) but despite her looks and where she came from, she showed that she can roll with the big guys and throw a few punches, no problem. I also really like Basilio and Maya, the two teenagers Alice met the first night. They may be street rats-occasional drug dealers (not by choice) but they were smart and resourceful, making the most of it from their surroundings.

At the beginning of each chapter, there is a quote/commentary from either radio shows, newscasters, government officials, or family/friends so that readers can experience different point-of-views, and see things on both sides since the book is narrated in first-person by Alice who is for the most of the book within Ypsilanti Bloc. I thought the quotes/commentaries added a nice touch in building up the world, at the same time giving readers information in an engaging manner that isn’t info-dumping. Overall, I really enjoyed Alice in No-Man’s-Land and hope there’s a sequel in the works. If you enjoy dark and gritty dystopians with a bit of science fiction then you should check Alice in No-Man’s Land out. Alice in No-Man's-Land is the best New Adult-Dystopain I've read all year. I highly recommend it!

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