Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
A thrilling science fiction adventure perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah Maas
Ravaged by a plague known as Red Death, the planet Gabriel, a former colony of Earth, is a barren wasteland. Since being abandoned by Earth 500 years ago, resources are scarce and life is cheap. To stay alive, the survivors, the Citizens, scavenge the remains of a now dead city, trading for food with the resource-rich Curadores, the only other survivors on Gabriel. Every old computer, every piece of wire, every scrap of metal counts. To steal is the ultimate sin. So when tough-as-nails seventeen-year-old Leica is caught doing just that, she’s exiled and left to the mercy of Gabriel’s unforgiving desert for the rest of her life.
While in exile, Leica discovers a mysterious shuttle, which may not only lead her home, but even more impossible—reestablish contact with Earth. Then Red Death rears its head again, killing her entire work crew, leaving Leica all alone until a handsome Curador offers her refuge in the Dome—the only place on Gabriel untouched by Red Death, where a decadent and sultry life awaits. But there’s a catch: Leica can only enter the Dome as his concubine—his Kisaeng. When a rogue group of Citizens see their chance for revolution in Leica’s good fortune, she finds herself unraveling a deadly mystery with chilling answers to the true origin of Red Death and the reason Earth really abandoned them so long ago.
A richly imagined fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce, Lotus and Thorn, is a magnificent, epic adventure.
The book blurb calls this a fantasy, but I’d have to disagree. You know that book blurbs are nothing more than a sales pitch, right? Someone, somewhere decided that Lotus and Thorn would sell better as a fantasy novel. Only it really isn’t. Space shuttles, test tube experiments and animals fused with machine put it solidly in the science fiction camp, in my opinion.
Don’t let that turn you off, though. It really does read like fantasy. Fast paced fantasy with a strong, smart heroine, a love triangle involving two larger-than-life brothers, a healthy dose of uprising and a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.
If you aren’t a sci-fi fan, you may have to push through the first few chapters. I couldn’t help thinking back to when I read DUNE all those years ago, and the setting of a harsh desert planet is certainly similar. But Etienne manages to create a culture that blends Mexican and Korean elements with religious and political themes and excerpts of Grimm’s fairy tales (Fletcher’s Bird…one of my favorites).
It is certainly ambitious, though occasionally it felt a little forced …tamales and kimchi, anyone? Also, I don’t usually pay much attention to book covers, but occasionally one will either catch my eye or turn me off. This one did the latter, but I’m really glad I didn’t let a lackluster cover dissuade me from reading this one.