4 out of 4 stars
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January "Winter" Winterton has embraced her vocation with a passion that makes her stand out from the other Purifiers, the genetically enhanced warriors defending the floating city of Olympus. Daily, she faces the daunting challenge of clearing Earth's poisoned surface of humans mutated by the Blight, a virus engineered to attack human DNA. Winter hopes her hard work will one day make it safe to reclaim the lower world left behind by ancient human society.
Winter finds strength in the advice she receives from her mentor Derrick "Eagle Eyes" Zinda and strives to follow in his steps by one day achieving the glorious rank of Master Purifier. She also dreams of ascending into the Elite ranks and joining the heroes of Olympus in the afterlife paradise, Elysium. Nothing can deter Winter in her mission or divert her loyalty to the Sovereign, Olympus' leader, as she brings about purification on the planet's contaminated wilderness.
An eye-opening discovery changes Winter's priorities and causes her to view her vocation in a new light. Unsure how to respond, Winter must learn to make her choice and embrace the consequences that follow.
Winter's Fall, by Christian Rivers, is an excellent dystopian novel suitable for young adults and science-fiction fans alike. I had high expectations going into this book, and I was not disappointed in the least. It was clear that this book was professionally formatted and even included commissioned artwork of the elaborate floating city Olympus, where Winter's story takes place. Seeing the stunning metropolis come to life added greater depth to the world-building elegantly woven throughout the writing, especially for those who love visual elements.
I also commend the author for his excellent use of support characters to bring out the complexity of Winter's narrative so the reader could fully experience her character growth. I enjoyed her interactions with her mentor, Eagle Eyes, and Winter's mentorship over the inexperienced initiate, Nalara Gressen. Through these interactions, the author pulled me into the world of Olympus, and I felt grounded in Winter's life, routines, and dedication to her vocation. I experienced a thorough indoctrination into her society, and the cultural details and technology flowed smoothly with the story's progression. The plot's natural development made the earth-shattering information Winter discovers much more vivid to me as I read. My favorite part was wondering how this discovery would affect Winter and her beliefs and made for an intriguing and suspenseful read.
The potent antagonists also elicited heavy-hitting emotions as I watched them interact with Winter, and I cheered for her even more as she continued to grow despite their attempts to drag her down. The brutal battle in the final chapters of the book was gut-wrenching but hard to put down. I admired how the author brought the story to a close with several thought-provoking concepts and an enticing hook that already has me eager to read the next installment.
There was nothing that I disliked about Winter's Fall. I believe the book was professionally edited, though I noticed several minor proofreading errors. Since the errors did not distract from my enjoyment of the book, and I could find no other reason to reduce the rating, I gladly give this book four out of four stars. I'd highly recommend Winter's Fall to those who enjoy urban sci-fi/fantasy with strong female characters. There was no profane language or erotic content, but sensitive readers should be aware that there were scenes of battle violence and torture that they may find disturbing.
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