~ About the Book ~
No one stirred in the area—people stayed in their little hovels. Hiding, most likely. From the cold, the helplessness. Maybe from the Party. Staying out of sight, like cockroaches.
I am not a cockroach.
“Apathy is the illness of the overprivileged…” Words laced with fear—and maybe a hint of prophecy. His father’s words. Words Braxton would prefer to ignore.
Braxton Luther is sixteen when the Progressive Reform Party takes over the government. It can’t be that bad. So they don’t want religion in government—that’s constitutional. He can’t understand his church’s hypersensitive reaction or his father’s cryptic warning to stand against the Party’s ultimatums.
But after living under the new government for a year, Braxton faces a choice—conform to the demands of the ungodded in order to protect his best friend, Eliza, or defy the system and go into hiding, ensuring a life of misery. Still certain that life will settle back into normalcy in the near future, Braxton chooses compliance.
Then the killings begin, and the threat to Eliza becomes darker than Braxton had ever imagined. Reality finally sinks in.
Apathy is no longer a choice.
***PG-13 material. Though this book is Christian Fiction, there are dark (but not graphic) scenes that some readers may find disturbing.
~ Excerpt ~
“There’s a new act on the table in Washington.” My attention diverted to Eliza’s father, who sat on the couch across the room, his shoulders hunched over as though he carried the earth upon his back.
“The Citizen’s Recharacterization Act.” My father nodded, his solemn voice matching his downcast face. “The government will provide all promised benefits to any legitimized citizen of the US, without expense.” He shook his head. “Someone’s got to pay for it.”
“We already are paying for it.” Mother’s low voice surged with resentment. “The new tax brackets will break us before anyone will see any benefits.”
“Benefits won’t go to everyone if that act is passed.” Jayla Knight spoke softly from a chair near my place on the floor. She sounded defeated, like there really wasn’t an if in that scenario. “It’ll redefine citizenship. Not everyone will qualify.”
“How will citizenship be redefined?” Words tumbled out of my mouth before I realized it.
All eyes settled on me. Was it another stupid question?
Father shuddered. It was subtle, but I saw it. My stomach knotted, hard and queasy. I’d never, in all my seventeen years, seen him actually quiver with fear.
“Whoever is in compliance with the Party will be granted citizenship.” He spoke to the floor. This man hunched over, almost whispering, was my father? The man who had played the offensive line in college? Whose booming voice required no microphone from the pulpit? They turned off our power, and he bowed to the disgrace—without a fight. Without a plan.
The stone in my gut hardened. I wouldn’t bow, not like that. They could define citizenship however they wanted. I wouldn’t let them rip away my life. Politics was a game of hide and seek. If they wanted to hide the American Dream, I’d find the stores of prosperity. Only fools clung to their ideology, exchanging success for misery.
I caught Eliza looking at me, the same penetrating questions from our earlier conversation lurking in her eyes. The Citizen’s Seal. Suddenly, I understood. And I couldn’t answer her unvoiced question anymore.
~ Review ~
This book had me riveted from its opening lines, and hasn’t let go of me yet, because I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in the series! Not to mention I can’t stop thinking about how I would react if faced with the same situation. Would I have the courage to stand, come what may, even if that meant death? Or worse . . .
Rodes’ narrator, sixteen-year-old pastor’s son Braxton Luther, is testament to her ability to bring complex human characters of any age to life on the page. Braxton is snarky but kind, confident in his own understanding yet insecure as a person, intelligent but naïve, and self-deprecatingly honest about his own inward-focusing tendencies. He’s a character you can’t help but love in spite of his flaws, and one who burrows deeper into your heart as he faces increasingly difficult choices and circumstances.
It’s in these choices and circumstances that this story really packs a punch. Dystopian fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s not something I naturally gravitate towards, but this story hits all the right buttons. It’s a frighteningly plausible scenario, and my insides are tied in knots for both Braxton and his best friend Eliza, but at the same time there is something fortifying and energizing about witnessing others dig deep in the face of extreme adversity. It strengthens your own resolve, firms your own convictions.
As a reader who was already familiar with Rodes’ writing as Jennifer Rodewald, I was thrilled to find everything I love about her writing in this story. She has a remarkable ability to capture the heartbeat of her characters and her story with writing that is perfectly nuanced and so natural to read.
This is an amazing beginning to her series, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review.
Series: #1 The Uncloaked Trilogy
Release date: 28 April 2017
Publisher: Rooted Publishing
~ About the Author ~
Jennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.
Aiming to live with boundless enthusiasm, her creed is vision, pursuit, and excellence. Blessed with a robust curiosity, she loves to research. Whether she’s investigating the history of a given area, the biography of a Christian icon, or how nature declares the glory of God, her daily goal is to learn something new.
After growing up in Denver, Jen moved to Nebraska to attend college where she met and married a Husker. She now lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, laughs at her horses and chickens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.