World Building: This Isn’t Walden Pond

You can’t learn everything from your backyard.

Despite what many of us were taught in our high school English classes, Henry David Thoreau’s advice on the matters of travel and soul searching isn’t the greatest for writers and world building. We can search our souls without leaving our hometown, but we can’t experience different environments without getting out there. This is extremely important when building a world of your own.

Growing up, I lived with my mother in Camas, Washington. It’s a little mill town in the conservative pocket of Clark County. Just across the river is the thriving cultural hub that is Portland, Oregon. Now, I live in Texas, near Dallas. It’s just about as different as you can get without going to the other side of the globe. As a teenager, I spent quite a few summers here with my father, but living here has taught me to see some things I hadn’t considered before.

Two very different sunsets.

Friends from back North often ask me what it’s like to live in a red state since I lived in a blue state for so long. The differences, though, aren’t really political. Sure, that’s part of it, but the culture itself is what shows the most. It comes up in some of the strangest ways.

“Thanks for warning me…that would have gotten on my nerves eventually.”

Language is something that constantly evolves. It is influenced by the culture of the people who speak it. World building sometimes means coming up with a unique language to suit the people inhabiting the new universe. If it doesn’t, it probably involves different usage of certain words. This became evident to me when I found out my stepmom had warned my grandma about the way I talk before we met.

My step-grandmother thanked my stepmom, Amy, for the warning she received before meeting me. “She doesn’t say ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am,’ Mom. It’s a cultural thing. It’s as different as if she came here and started speaking Spanish,” Amy said.

At the time, Grandma brushed it off with an “okay,” and life moved on. When we met, we got along instantly. We bonded over our love of dogs and talked endlessly about Mississippi, her home state, and the Pacific Northwest. But Amy was right. I never once said “Yes, Ma’am,” to her. My vocabulary was different. I was quiet and polite, but not in the typical Southern way.

pip service dog

Who wouldn’t love this face?

That’s why she thanked Amy. Grandma grew up with honorifics being mandatory, and she raised her kids to know when to use them. It’s a sign of respect, and not using them can be disrespectful. In the North, however, it’s seldom used outside of the service industry.

When building your worlds, consider the differences of language. Would it cause any strife between characters? Would it be something a character would have to learn? What speaking habits would some of them have that others don’t? 

“It doesn’t matter if we like you here. If we aren’t hospitable, the desert might take you.”

We have a family friend, Camille, who has a habit of being very straight forward, very blunt, in a way I’ve not seen from anyone else. When I met her for the first time in years, she intimidated the living hell out of me. Reading people is not my strong suit. I have had to actively teach myself how to read body language and I’m still working on learning tone. Camille is bold and loud. She has a passion for lifting and PekitiTirsia Kali. In many ways, she’s my exact opposite.

I spent a lot of my time when she was around quiet, and it didn’t take long for her to realize I was nervous. She took me out to a Thai restaurant she really liked and we talked the whole time. We discovered a shared interest in music, both of us being clarinet players, and she offered to teach me the basics of Pekiti.

I told her when we got back to the car I’d been afraid she wouldn’t like me much. We’d seemed to be so different. She offered me a shrug and said, “It doesn’t matter if we like you here. If we aren’t hospitable, the desert might take you.”

I stared at her for a moment, stunned. The desert wasn’t a person. It didn’t have that much power. But she explained her statement to me, and I realized yes, yes it does.

arizona

You might not even notice until it’s too late.

The desert is hot, formidable, and merciless. Without water, people die. This fact alone shaped the whole concept of Southern Hospitality. When westward expansion was happening, survival depended on being able to put aside differences and help each other. The culture reflects that. Politics don’t matter. Religion doesn’t matter. Race doesn’t matter. Sexuality doesn’t matter. In the desert, without water, you will die. Francis Duggan was right. Death is the great equalizer.

In your world building, consider what parts of the environment would impact the culture of the inhabitants. Are people able to be generous and band together, or are resources so slim, it’s better to be solitary? Is it easy to survive alone? How does the land affect the individual, the family, the community?

“Oh, please. That was tame.”

My fiance is scared of storms.

He lives in Tornado Alley.

When we moved to Texas, he told me over and over one of the things he’d have to work the hardest on getting used to were the thunder storms, the hail, and, God forbid, tornadoes. I tried my best to be reassuring, offering a smile and reassurance that it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Earlier today he experienced his first tornado watch. Then warning. Then sirens. My dad made a point during the daylight to show us both the clouds and where to look for the formation that would eventually become a tornado. My stepmom drew attention to the sudden drop in air temperature as the cold and warm systems moved about. I pointed out the frequent change in the wind direction. We all wanted to teach him not to be so afraid.

The lightening was like a light show. The sky flashed yellow, then purple, then brilliant grey-blue. But still, it seemed tame. That is, until night fell. It sounded like our house was on the edge of the ocean. The wind blasted and the sky never stayed dark. It was almost daylight without the sun.

Hail dumped down. We huddled under the overhang by the front door, watching in quiet awe. Alex murmured to me then, “Nature can really eff some shit up.” No truer words have been spoken.

We retreated inside when the ice shards started skittering across the concrete. Amy and I drew the last of the curtains as the sirens sounded. Dad retrieved a few pieces of hail that had somehow stayed intact.

hail

Yes, those fell from the sky. Yes, they could kill someone.

The wind started to die down. The hail quit falling. The sirens went quiet.

I looked over at Alex, who was still wide-eyed with the kind of feverish excitement that only comes from finding a new thrill. In the North, we don’t get warnings for storms. The hills and trees hide it. They come suddenly and end just as fast.”See why I told you Northern storms are tame?” I asked. “They’re a lot louder here. Much more violent, too,” I added.

“Oh, please,” Amy said. “That was tame.”

Think about how the environment affects characters’ fears. What is different? What is the same? Thunder storms in the south are more intense, but less frightening to Alex. Storms are also a stereotype of this area, but people are more comfortable with them here. Are there quirks like that in your world? Why? 

Texas and Washington are completely different worlds. I am enjoying every minute of learning my new home. Every difference I notice brings me something else to think about when I write.

So go out! Travel! Talk to new people, debate, spark conversation. Find differences and revel in them. The world is richer for being diverse. Even if right now your world is confined to your own Walden Pond, there are people out there who are different than you. Dive into their wealth of information. Think.

Not only is that the route to being a better writer, it’s the route to being a better human.

 

Did you like this post? Do you want to read more? Consider stopping by Amazon and picking up a copy of Nightfall, the first book of the Starwalkers Series by Christy Harkins. 

Better Dig Deep: These Shallow Graves

It’s currently 9:09am on a Thursday morning and I don’t think I slept more than thirty minutes last night. Huh. I guess that’s what a good book does to you.

I discovered Jennifer Donnelly in the late spring of 2014. My friend and I had been aimlessly browsing the library shelves when she’d caught sight of Revolution. Upon completion, I immediately went to the closest bookstore to buy my own copy. It has since gone on to be one of my favorite books. When I uncovered it during The Move, I decided to check and see if Ms. Donnelly had released any other books in recent years. She had.

Though how it’s taken me this long to get my hands on These Shallow GravesI’m still not sure.

The nitty-gritty:
Page count: 482
Read time: One (very sleepless) night
Actual estimated read time: About 9.5 hours, adjusted for bathroom breaks (human and puppy)

What’s it about?

Josephine Montfort, also known as Jo (or Josie Jones), is a character that lends herself naturally to the page. At first glance she’s the definition of a Gilded Age Young Lady, but there’s more to her. She follows the rules, but she has a daring desire to be free. She looks up to Nellie Bly, a fearless female reporter who bent all the rules to report a story that would have long-term effects on the way society viewed mental institutions.

But a character alone is not a story.  First ruled an accident, then a suicide, and finally a murder, Jo is at the heart of the unofficial investigation into her father’s death. With all the authorities being bribed to keep their mouths shut, it falls onto her shoulders to act as the investigative reporter and discover what happened.

In order to do so, she has to work with people society says she shouldn’t be associating with at all. Jo befriends a thieving girl, a coroner’s assistant, and a young reporter with more ambition than sense. All in all, it’s a beautiful period piece revolving around New York in the late nineteenth century. 

The Good

Obviously, I enjoyed this book. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have stayed up all night reading. The things that stuck out to me the most were the characterization of Jo, the time period, and the voice. 

Not a single significant character in this book suffered from being one-dimensional. A driving factor for Jo was her desire to be free to do as she pleased, to be independent. Near the end of the book, it is shown that she isn’t the only one with these desires, and these sentiments aren’t from the obvious choices, either. The cast in this book was done marvelously.

As for time period, I greatly enjoyed the details that made this book feel authentic. Laudanum was a common medicine in the Victorian era, which overlaps with the Gilded Age. It has some of the hallmarks of a Victorian novel-asylums, murder, dark alleys-but also mentions real historical figures, names people familiar with New York’s history would recognize, and the constant reminder that carriages, not cars, are the most common form of transportation.

What makes this a great novel to me, though, is the voice. The pacing is done well. There is just enough going on to tell a thorough story without losing the reader’s interest. It doesn’t drag the way some period pieces do. This is largely because of the nature of a murder mystery. The looming sense of danger for Jo and her friends helps keep the pages turning. 

Bonus: No real love triangle! Yay! There is romantic interest between Jo and two boys, Bram and Eddie, but it’s more focused on choice. It’s obvious from the get-go that neither Jo nor Bram is particularly happy about their arranged marriage, and the relationship with Eddie forms naturally, if a bit quickly.

Bonus Bonus: Interesting female character that isn’t the main character! Fay is a gem. A gem who talks about more than the love interests.

These Shallow Graves, George.png

Meanwhile, George just likes to be lazy while I read.

The Bad

No matter how good a book is, there’s always some bad to it. For me, the things that kept These Shallow Graves from being my favorite were the extreme level of Jo’s ignorance and the predictability. 

Coming from the time period they’re in, it’s expected that a proper young lady wouldn’t be overly knowledgeable about things like brothels and the bad parts of town. Jo’s level of ignorance, though, is almost comical. When she goes to meet Eddie late at night and tells him of how a woman offered to help her find work with Della and her girls, she doesn’t understand why Eddie is horrified. It’s comical, but in a cringe-worthy way that screams secondhand embarrassment.

The other major drawback was predictability. This book is driven by it’s twists and turns. Unfortunately, I could sense a lot of these before they came up. While I wasn’t certain, I had an inkling of who the killer may be within the first quarter of the book. Personally, this didn’t take away any of the enjoyment. I like when a mystery makes it possible to string together the answers on my own. For some, though, the predictability may be a major downer.

Bonus: I rolled my eyes hard the moment Jo forgot Eddie has a sister. 

The Verdict

4.5 Stars

I enjoyed every minute of this book, and will likely pass it along to my sister before letting it find a home on my bookshelf.

If you’re a fan of the Victorian Era, New York City, class issues, asylums, journalism, mysteries, and books without senseless love triangles, give this a go. 

Did you like this post? Do you want to read more? Consider stopping by Amazon and picking up a copy of Nightfall, the first book of the Starwalkers Series by Christy Harkins. 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 

Writing on the Road

Hello, Readers!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything-quite a while, actually. That’s because I’ve spent the last month or so absorbed in health issues that have caused me to move across the country. My fiance and I packed up all of our things in a moving truck and drove from Vancouver, WA to Dallas, TX. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Our truck

For one week, that yellow truck was home.

During our time on the road, I was reminded of why I love to travel so much. Exploring is one of the things that provides the most long term benefits to writing. Why? Travel helps you become a better person if you let it. In order to maximize the effect, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Take a LOT of pictures…

Your photos will help you remember the experience. Lots of artists use photography to help them with different aspects of their wok. Painters use reference images, musicians use images as inspirations, and writers have a plethora of possible uses for photography. I use pictures for inspiration boards, story boarding, reference images, accompaniment to poetry…the list goes on.

2. But DON’T live behind the lens

Your images can only get you so far. Take this photo for example:

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My friend Kara took this picture when I was 15. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes of a horse show. While I love it how real it is, the angle, and the skill it takes to capture a photo like this, I love it most for the memories it evokes.

It makes me think of how my friend Lily and I spent two hours in the snow, shivering, tying to conserve warm water while simultaneously trying to get our horses’ white coats gleaming. It also reminds me of waking at four in the morning so I could be sure the horses had eaten their whole breakfasts before the first class.

It reminds me of how patient my horse was as I spent hours working his mane into manageable braids. It also reminds me of how impatient he was when he realized he had to wear shipping boots in the trailer.

It makes me remember the thrill of cantering in the big show arena where all is silent except the announcer, the hoof beats, and the sound of your own heartbeat.

This photograph brings back a lot of memories, but it isn’t the whole memory on its own. Take pictures as supplements, but be in the moment.

 

3. Stop Places

One of the things my fiance regrets most about our trip is that we didn’t stop at Disneyland when we went through Anaheim.

We couldn’t have-right now I’m not allowed on roller coasters and the moving van cost more than our tickets would have. But even so, that’s an experience we passed on.

We did, however, stop at a viewpoint right on the ocean, so far south it felt like we could walk to Mexico. We took pictures. We ate lunch. We laughed at Pippin as he charged after prairie dogs and tried to herd seagulls. It was a fantastic experience.

4. Talk to people

When we made it to Gila Bend, Arizona, we had already been on the road for four long days. We were exhausted. Our beds called to us, and in the morning, they insisted on keeping us tethered down with blankets. But my grandparents had other ideas. They picked us up early in the morning for breakfast and then my grandmother’s favorite tourist stop.

It was a blast. Alex and I got to pick out souvenirs that had been hand crafted in Mexico and talk to a lot of people. Some, like my grandparents, camped in the south every winter to escape the bitter northern cold. Others were travelers like us, just passing through. But all of them were human, and all of them were different.

5. Take Notes

Write in a journal. Post updates to social media. Let the world know where you are. Looking back on this trip, there’s a lot I’m glad I jotted down, whether in a Facebook status or a quick scribble with the lights off before I fell asleep in another strange hotel. Those notes help me remember a huge milestone in my life.

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And who knows? Maybe I’ll use something in book 3.

 

 

 

 

Show Me How to Show!

Approximate read time: 4-5 minutes

The tl;dr version of this post: READ THE EMOTION THESAURUS BY ANGELA ACKERMAN. There is not a single writing book I have gotten more out of. 

I remember being thirteen years old, sitting cross-legged on my bed, smoothing and re-smoothing the purple and green quilt I’d saved up for 3 weeks to buy. I pressed the phone against my ear and held my breath, anxious for my dad to finish skimming the four pages of writing I had emailed him earlier in the day.

“Do you like it?” I squeaked into the phone.

sophomore-bedroom

Early-teen me loved that room.

There was a beat of silence. My father was always vocal. He didn’t hold much back. I could tell he was carefully considering what he should say, and that made my stomach twist and turn. “I…do?” he started. “You can definitely spin a story. But you’ve got to learn how to show, not tell.”

For an eighth-grader with hardly any real experience sharing stories, this didn’t make much sense to me. I remember pausing for a moment, confusion reducing my thoughts to static, before our conversation shifted into the viability of the arts as a career choice (a wholly different beast of a conversation). As I grew up, though, it became an incredibly common refrain. In my English classes: “Show me why you want me to side with you. Don’t tell me!” From the editor of the school paper: “Show me what it was like at that event.”During my senior project revisions with my mentor. “Can we figure out a better way to show the plot being driven forward instead of just telling the story?”

I always wanted to reply, “I am a writer, not a painter! If I wanted to SHOW you, I’d pick a visual art!”

grandpas-christmas-present

But even my visual art has text!

Over time, my skills improved. I didn’t really grasp why, but they did. It was like riding a bike. The longer I put energy into my writing, the more comfortable I got in my element. But then, the Christmas after I graduated high school, there was a small box under the tree. It was wrapped in silky green paper, tied with three strands of curling ribbon. It took me ten minutes to fight through the ribbon and unearth the Amazon box inside. Only one person wrapped with ribbon that well: Grandma.

“They suggested it when I went to the bookstore for your birthday, but they were out of stock,” my grandmother told me. “I thought it might help with your stories.”

Soon, all the other presents were pushed aside. I hardly spoke to my grandparents or my uncle until we all packed up for Christmas supper across town. I was too busy reading. Frankly, my mother barely managed to get my attention by commanding all three dogs inside to wipe their muddy paws on my pajamas.  The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression had grabbed me by the throat and swallowed me whole.

The introduction explained the nuances of emotions better than anyone else had ever explained to me. The language made clear what years of writing classes and hours and hours of practice hadn’t quite managed to sink into me. But that wasn’t even the best part.

Inside, every emotion has a two-page spread of detailed descriptions. They’re split into subcategories that show both internal and external signs a character may show. It’s in list format (which, as I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely love) which makes it very easy to skim over if you’re looking for just that one perfect word.

For those of you who, like me, prefer to write in first person limited perspective, it can be a struggle to make emotional responses be felt by readers. We write from the interior of our narrator’s head. If they don’t have a certain kind of intuition about others, we have to find other ways to make emotional responses be felt. This book helped me learn how to describe the visible physical responses in a way that would click for readers, but not rely absolutely on the perception of the narrator.

Another absolutely spectacular feature this book offers is similar emotions. Each spread includes a mention of other emotions similar to the one it’s focused on, but just a little bit different. I found this very useful when I used it to try to nail down Zoey’s reaction to severe grief. Was it anger? Rage? Anguish? All of these emotions are tangled together and, sometimes, difficult to tell apart if the situation calls for it. The descriptions and references helped me mold all of my characters’ feelings until they were exactly as I wanted them.

Would I suggest this book? No question about it. YES. It’s one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received.

 

Did you like this post? Do you want to read more? Consider stopping by Amazon and picking up a copy of Nightfall, the first book of the Starwalkers Series by Christy Harkins. 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 

The Top 5 Best Pets for Writers

Writers, as a general rule, are the types of people who tend to gather strange connections. We make friends in odd places, but there is no denying we can be difficult to love. At any moment, conversation can go from on topic to a complicated plot twist, and not all people can handle our commitment to our work. Flexible hours are great for productivity, but not all that great for friendships.

That’s why animals are so darn fantastic. They love their human caretakers unconditionally, and they don’t mind a rant about the latest plot twist. They’re there for the long haul. I have owned every pet on this list, and this is my opinion of how each of them stand up to the life of a writer.

Number 5-Fish

Depending on the tank setup you choose, fish can be extremely time consuming or worry free friends. There is a huge assortment of colors and varieties. In my experience, though, a lot of people don’t see these creatures as friends.

Let me tell you something, buddy. I had a Halfmoon Beta once that we named Remus Lupin. We hardly ever called him by name, though. To us, he was Mr. Angry-Jazz-Hands or Our Beloved Asshole. That fish would flap his bitter little fins at everything that moved. The front door? FLAP FLAP FLAP. The dog? FLAP FLAP FLAP. His reflection? FLAPFLAPFLAPFLAPFLAP.

That vicious little beta fish lived quite a while in his little ten gallon tank. I found watching him swim around to be relaxing, and the noises of his filter made for a good background to write with. Fish are the perfect pet for people constantly on the go.

That said, fish can’t be cuddled. They’re not good at wiping away tears after a tough scene. They’re not able to go out of the house with you. I love fish, and while they can absolutely be good companions, they come in at number 5 in this list.

Number 4-Rodents

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Many people I know are terrified of rodents. My aunt, for instance, hates bats because they look like flying rats. My mother won’t willingly go within ten feet of a mouse. However, I find most rodents are incredibly good pets.

I had guinea pigs for several years. They loved to sit on my shoulder or to climb around me while I wrote. They were very sweet animals, and low maintenance. For many writers, maintenance is of the utmost importance.

Guinea pigs need their cage spot cleaned daily, deep cleaned once a week, with fresh food and water every single day. Ultimately, taking care of my guinea pigs took less than half an hour a day. Their excited squeaks at the sound of the refrigerator (because the fridge means fresh spinach), their cuddling, and their ease of care make them fantastic pets for those who aren’t bothered by small mammals, putting them at number 4.

Number 3-Horses

This one might be surprising. Horses are incredibly high maintenance and their price tag is no joke. I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit up to my knees in mud, water, and muck for these soulful creatures. One wrong step and they could kill me. All said and done, though, I love them. Horses are gentle giants.

Cleaning stalls is quiet work. During high school, when I leased a gorgeous Thoroughbred, I spent my hours working lost in my mind, weaving plots and building characters with the help of another stable hand. We’d discuss story lines and work on building our worlds. When I was on my horse’s back, I felt limitless. Trail rides let me see a lot more of the world than I could see on foot. There’s no doubt travel helps improve writing. Seeing more of the world is good. I’ve known riders who’ve worked on memorizing poetry on horseback, listened to books on tape on horseback, and even used speech-to-text programs on their phones to write while in the saddle. Something about being with horses makes people feel closer to nature or closer to God.

There are definitely negatives, though. Horses are powerful creatures, and it takes a long time and a lot of commitment to learn how to work with them safely. They are expensive. Horses eat nearly 10 pounds of hay at each meal, and they can’t be fed just once a day. Their vet bills tend to be higher, and their equipment isn’t cheap. For the amount of companionship and inspiration they can provide, though, I place them at number 3.

Number 2-Cats

Yes, I knocked the stereotypical writer’s animal to number 2. Cats are fantastic animals. They’re calculating little assholes made of spite, fuzz, and teeth. Cats evolved from enormous predators to tiny containers of hatred. I love them.

Cats are stereotypical writer pets because of their independent nature. They don’t need a lot of attention to survive (unless they’re that rare creature that feels more like a dog than a cat). They have a habit of laying on warm things, like keyboards, and making sure you stop to stretch your wrists once in a while. The best thing about them is getting to watch their antics. Cats are creative, proud, and not the type of creature to take anyone’s shit.

The down side for these furry monsters is actually their fur. Cats naturally hold in a lot of static electricity. When they seem to suddenly come unglued and attack their humans for petting them, it is often because the static has built up enough to cause them severe discomfort. For someone like me, a person who pets animals absentmindedly, that’s a major drawback. I don’t want to be bit, and no cat wants to be shocked.

Number 1-Dogs

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Okay, anyone who knows me should have seen this one coming.

Pictured is Pippin, my service dog and best friend. Dogs are literal angels. They’re brilliant creatures that evolved alongside us to become exactly the kind of partners we needed. No other animal is so attuned to humans.

Dogs are watchful and loyal animals. Countless emergencies have been handled and avoided by dogs. They’re more social than a lot of pets. Their pack mentality has bled over into their interactions with humans to the point that now, humans are the pack. We are their family. We make sure they have their basic necessities handled and they make sure we have a break away from the computer and go outside for a while. Dogs are amazing partners.

Obviously, no animal is perfect, but dogs’ biggest downfall is that they are so dependent on us. Ultimately, I don’t see this as a negative. They remind us there is a real world. Dogs make us take a moment away from our created worlds to be with them.

Love is synonymous with dogs.

Fear the Reaper?

Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes

In the world of Neal Shusterman’s Scythe (Arc of a Scythe), humanity may have defeated death, but they are far from defeating immorality.

The nitty-gritty:
Page count: 438
Read time: One day spent promising the fiance I’d walk the dog after “just one more chapter.”
Actual estimated read time: About 9 hours

Why you should read it: Scythe takes place in a utopia precariously tipping toward dystopia. Much like Shusterman’s Unwind, it forces the reader to examine their stance on a pressing dilemma relevant to today’s world.

Our protagonists, Citra and Rowan, are teenagers who find themselves in the favor of H.S. Faraday, a renowned Scythe who holds himself to the highest moral standard. In a world where death has been eliminated and it’s easy to “turn the corner” and be young again, Scythes protect the world against overpopulation. They carry a heavy burden, though: they are expected to kill, and kill indiscriminately, at over 200 people every year. There are no days off from this reality. They wear heavy Scythe’s robes, wear a glimmering ring connected to their infinite database, and wear the judgement and fear of a society that created them.

The two teenagers find themselves apprentices where only one of them can succeed to take the robes, the ring, and choose their new name. Neither one of them wants it, but failing isn’t a viable option, either. Morality shows itself to have shades, not necessarily of grey, but of the rainbow throughout the novel.

Not every Scythe has the same kind of moral code as Scythe Faraday. Some Scythes are all but revered for their compassion, their quiet reassurances and quick hand, while others are legends for their acts of nothing short of terrorism. Neither is illegal, but Scythes from both sides of the metaphorical aisle eye each other with judgement and suspicion.

With their Conclaves, meetings occurring with the express purpose to honor the dead and discuss business, feeling more like the pissing contest that Congress is known to turn into, there is definitely a political undertone to this novel. Politicians face a daily struggle to represent their constituents and be efficient. Scythes have a similar responsibility. They must do what they believe is best for the Scythedom and for humanity while also balancing their already-precarious morals. Scythe is a book that turns an idea that feels like a hypothetical scenario tossed about over drinks into a terrifying reality. This is, unsurprisingly, much like typical American politics.

I devoured this book over the course of one day. I felt the pacing was phenomenal, but it is worth mentioning that it definitely reads as the typical apprenticeship novel. There are just enough twists to keep readers guessing, but upon a second reading, it’s easy to find the support for them littered throughout the pages for the careful eye.

Would I suggest this book? Absolutely. 

 

 

 

Did you like this post? Do you want to read more? Consider stopping by Amazon and picking up a copy of Nightfall, the first book of the Starwalkers Series by Christy Harkins. 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.