3 out of 4 stars
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The year is 2129 and the United States has shattered into a dystopian society in Malila of the Scorch, Book Three of W. Clark Boutwell’s Of Old Men and Infidels series.
The two factions, Unity and America, are at war. Caught right in the middle is Malila, a former Unity soldier now deserter. Injured after escaping from the clutches of Unity forces (Book Two), Malila is aided by the little known third faction, the Scorch. Altered by the nuclear wars of the past, the plant-life inhabiting the Scorch, the area between Unity and America, is alive with a vengeance and a human-like consciousness.
Choosing Malila as their messenger, the Scorch express their willingness to join with America against Unity in the coming wars. However, is their alliance genuine or are they exploiting Malila as a mere tool for their own gain?
Written in the third person, the story mainly follows Malila in her progression from Unity deserter to messenger of the Scorch, as the plants use her to communicate. However, there are multiple side stories occurring at the same time and the chapters are divided up to include them. The reader follows Jesse, another hardened soldier who grew up next to the Scorch, his love for Malila and his misgivings with her new role. The story also follows Jourdaine, the leader of Unity as he recovers from his injuries and leads Unity to war, and that of Will, Elise, and Hecate, spies inside Unity and friends of Malila.
All the characters were believable and three-dimensional, which helped with the sometimes complicated storyline. Malila is a tough single-minded woman focused on her belief that the uniting of the Scorch and America is the best option against Unity. Jesse provides a good balance with his suspicions and harsh views of reality. Jourdaine, a disagreeable, calculating character fulfills the enemy slot very well.
While I had read the second book of this series, one thing that I disliked about the story was the amount of complicated terminology, especially concerning the advanced technology. Although the glossary links helped, I had to reread several chapters early on in order to understand what was happening. For this reason, it is definitely not a stand-alone book, the series would have to be read in order to be able to appreciate the story and the talented writing.
One thing that I liked most was the concept of the Scorch. The idea of plant-life mutating to become life forms capable of communication while still maintaining their plant attributes and developing them into weapons is a disturbing portrayal of how powerful plants actually could be.
The book was very well written with no spelling or grammatical errors. There is also a timeline at the back which outlines the events in the two previous books leading up to where this one begins. This was very helpful, although I wish that it had been at the front so I could have read it before starting the story.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars, even though it is a cleverly written and enjoyable read, the technological terms seemed to overwhelm the story, especially at the beginning. There is no strong language and only very mild sex scenes. I would recommend this series to any who are interested in dystopian fiction such as The Hunger Games or Divergent series, although, start with Book One.
Malila of the Scorch
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