2 out of 4 stars
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It doesn't happen often, but once in a while I come across a book that leaves me with very mixed feelings. Across the Realm is one such book. Classified as science fiction, the book contains about 360 pages and is the first of a planned series.
The year is 2677, and the world has suffered a catastrophe in which the planet has been divided. The world now exists as a Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere; and the two could not be more different. The North consists of the people groups that we would recognize today. They have relied on technological changes to keep up with the ever-changing planet. The South, however, has evolved so much as to become almost alien. H2O is now deadly to them, and they breathe argon not oxygen. More importantly, they have developed an inner Light that forms a force field around their territory, serves as a weapon and keeps them healthy. They live for centuries and have telepathic abilities.
Unfortunately, the two Hemispheres just can't seem to get along. The North has been trying to find a way past the South's force field for many years, and the South is trying to protect Mother Earth and their way of life. Will these two sides be able to reconcile their differences? Who will be triumphant in this war of the ages?
The plot was very engaging. The two sides were each so unique that I had fun learning about their differences. The Southern Hemisphere particularly interested me as it was almost an alien species. It was fun to see how their biology helped enhanced so many qualities like speed, power and health. This alone was what kept me reading.
Now comes the hard part of the review - those things that could use improvement. Upon reading the first few pages, I came across several words that were foreign to me, Ndege and Askari being a few. I scanned the beginning and end of the book, but alas, no glossary. Sadly, it took me until the middle of the book to figure out most of the words, and even then, I'm not sure I figured out the author's sense of the word. This is always a drawback when the author uses words that don't exist in our language. It's clear that the author knows exactly what she's talking about; she just leaves the reader to try to figure it out on their own.
The second thing that bothered me was the pacing. While the plot was interesting and the different peoples unique, the story develops at a slow trot when it should be galloping at times. This may be due to the fact that this is the first in a series. The author is most likely taking her time to let the readers get to know the characters fully. However, for those that are looking for non-stop action, you may want to look elsewhere.
My biggest pet peeve about this novel, though, was the amount of segregation and discrimination from the different people groups. Not only did the Northern Hemisphere exhibit extreme prejudice towards the Southerners (and vice versa), but there was discrimination even within the groups. The North has taken a huge step BACK in time, and each race is segregated. The Caucasians keep to themselves and are called Aryans (yes, it very much is reminiscent of Nazi times.) They even call black people (who also keep to themselves) "niggers" at some points in the book. The Hispanics are further separated. In the South, there is a group called the Unenlightened. These people are considered inferior and are used for menial labor. Furthermore, there was not one single character that rose above any of these prejudices. It is up to the author as far as how they envision the future, but I found this version to be completely demoralizing. Even in our current society with so much hate all over, there are those who rise above this hate and prove that humankind does have some good in it. In the future (at least according to this author), we have all succumbed to our baser instincts, and I don't like it.
The last thing that I as a reader would want to know before picking up this book is about the ending. There is a very clear cliffhanger ending in this story. You just feel like you are finally getting to the apex when the story abruptly stops. As the first in the series, it is the author's prerogative to end the story in such a way. However, that does eliminate a fair amount of people from wanting to read this story.
Overall, I rate Across the Realm 2 out of 4 stars. If I had chosen to read this book on my own, I wouldn't have finished the story. Further, after finishing the entire novel, I have no desire to read the next in the series. The author's view of the future is too off-putting for me. However, those that don't mind that amount of prejudice and are willing to wait to see if it can be overcome might have a different experience with this book.
Across The Realm
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