Saturday 3 February 2018

A Grey Sun - S.J. Sherwood - The Denounced Series Book 1

A Grey Sun
The Denounced Series #1
S.J. Sherwood
Blue Ned Ltd
ISBN 9781999792916
eISBN 9781999792909

I read on average over 100 books a year, and I must state that this book took me completely by surprise. The novel is set in a dystopian future, and it is hard to tell if it is far future or near future. But that does not have a direct impact on the story. It is also the first book in a planned trilogy. And as a forewarning it ends on a very suspenseful cliff hanger. The description of the book states: "A must read for fans of The Maze Runner, Hunger Games and The Testing" And having read two of those three series, I can state it definitely fits in that genre, and it is a valid comparison.

The story is set in a future where it looks like religion has been suppressed. And the intention is to suppress individuality. But as we all know from real life, things are not always as they appear. Ned has not had an easy life. His parents died when he was young, and he has been in the system since then. When his older sister turned 18 she could have assumed custody of him but choose not to. Spending so much time in the system Ned has developed some very clear ideas about how to behave and act, with just enough resistance and edge to not become institutionalized. He had been Denounced, which is for the clear majority a death sentence. But on the day, he is to be executed, something strange happens. And his distraction trying to figure this out sets him at odds with a powerful figure and the new team of 5 he is suppose to be leading. But Ned has some insight and once things start to clear up, his pod might just have a chance if they can learn to work as a team and not as 6 individuals. But there is still a lot to figure out. They are in a military type boot camp, phase one focuses on physical development, phase 2 on combat, and phase three appears to be a live fire test! But things just keep not adding up. And Ned cannot get the image out of his head of the 6 members of the one pod who were executed the day after they arrived.

I have read the Hunger Games, and felt the series went downhill with each book. I have read The Testing and felt that it maintained and sustained the excitement from book one. I sure hope this one keeps going because it was an excellent beginning. In many ways the boot camp like atmosphere reminded me a lot of Starship Troopers, by Heinlein. Except the 90 trainees all arrived in coffin like boxes and all were scheduled to have been executed. They arrived from all over the world. And 6 are dead in under 24 hours. How many will make it to the promised freedom? If it is real.

I very much enjoyed this book. I had a hard time putting it down and read it in three sittings over two days. In fact when I still had about a third of the book to go, I started searching to see if book two was out or short stories set in the same world. Unfortunately at this point I must wait for book two. But I will likely grab it on the day of release and start it right away, no matter what I am reading at the time, or what books at in my 'to be read' pile at the time! And thank speaks volumes for how much I enjoyed this story. The plot was excellent and proceeded at a good pace. The characters are excellent. The reader really develops an attachment to Pod 15 and seeing their back stories unfold. Especially Ned and Rasa. The intended audience is Young Adult but like many recent books in that genre I believe this book will gather a much wider readership because of how good the story is written! So give it a try.

Books by S.J. Sherwood:
Denounced Series:
A Grey Sun
Shifting Horizons
Creaking Dawn

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