4 out of 4 stars
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The Maid of Salerno is the first volume of a new dystopian series by author Vi Zetterwall. Three more volumes are expected for this series, which stars Cassie Serrell, who earns the nickname “the Maid of Salerno” thanks to her dedication to working around her small town of Salerno. What begins as an insult forms into an honorable title as Cassie proves her worth, not just to Salerno, but to the entire country.
Years after The Darkening, the technological disaster that left the United States without electricity, political leadership, government, and a working economy, the country is in ruins, especially for those in poor towns like Salerno that have been cut off from the rest of the world. Work and money are hard to come by, and Cassie works non-stop to provide for herself and her Nana Rose. Though they barely have enough food to eat each day, Cassie keeps working hard and studying throughout her teenage years, with dreams to somehow improve the quality of life for her family and the rest of her town. Meanwhile, a group of wealthy business-people are sent on a mission to find a woman who will be the key to reforming the country. It’s only a matter of time before Cassie meets up with this wealthy group, but there are so many obstacles standing in her way, starting with the magistrate who is declaring war on Salerno.
This book would be great for readers like me who enjoy young adult dystopian novels with just a touch of paranormal woven into the text. I found those tidbits of the paranormal to be the most interesting parts of the story; they were subtle enough to be believable while leaving me anxious to read more. So many other subtle elements are woven into the story as well, which further increased my enjoyment of this book. The dialect of the characters is realistic and fun to read. Poverty and social inequality are common themes throughout the book, and many young readers would benefit from awareness of such issues.
Following Cassie over a few years of her life was much more enjoyable to me than reading about the wealthy people, and I had fully planned on complaining about it in this review. However, the author threw in that touch of paranormal that snapped my interest back into place. By the last third of the book, as the two plot-lines began to merge together into one cohesive story, I couldn’t put it down. In the end, I can’t complain about anything in the story, aside from a couple of formatting inconsistencies that are easy to overlook.
I give The Maid of Salerno a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy a gripping dystopian story, as this one contains a lot of believable elements that might have readers questioning their dependency on technology and the consequences of a life without such conveniences. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
The Maid of Salerno
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