GFW Writer member Jennifer Bennett has reviewed the recently released novel Sulan, Episode I: The League by Camille Picott, a new Young Adult Dystopian. If you like this review leave a comment here
"Sixteen-year-old Sulan Hom can’t remember life before the Default—the day the United States government declared bankruptcy. As a math prodigy, she leads a protected life, kept safe from the hunger and crime plaguing the streets of America. She attends the corporate-sponsored Virtual High School, an academy in Vex (Virtual Experience) for gifted children.
Beyond the security of Sulan’s high-tech world, the Anti-American League wages a guerrilla war against the United States. Their leader, Imugi, is dedicated to undermining the nation’s reconstruction attempts. He attacks anything considered a national resource, including corporations, food storage facilities—and schools. When Sulan witnesses the public execution of a teenage student and the bombing of a college dorm, she panics. Her mother, a retired mercenary, refuses to teach her how to defend herself. Sulan takes matters into her own hands. With the help of her hacker best friend, Hank, Sulan acquires Touch—an illegal Vex technology that allows her to share the physical experience of her avatar. With Touch, Sulan defies her mother and trains herself to fight. When Imugi unleashes a new attack on the United States, Sulan finds herself caught in his net. Will her Vex training be enough to help her survive and escape?"
And now for Jennifer Bennett's review:
|Author Camille Picott|
Young adult novels have always been my reading indulgence, so when I was asked if I wanted to review the first installment in a new YA series by Camille Picott about a Chinese-American girl named Sulan I was intrigued. Stories about Asian American protagonists are rare, and I was excited to read one.
Sulan, a high school math genius whose mother is an ex mercenary and whose father is a talented bio engineer for a large corporation called Global Arms, has a problem. Terrorists are wreaking havoc in the general populace and her mother refuses to teach Sulan how to fight, how to protect herself in a world where the American government has gone into financial default and corporations control and police the remains of a dangerously chaotic nation. With the help of her virtual reality high school friends, Hank and Billy, Sulan hatches a plan to train herself using her virtual interface, or Vex. Everything appears to be going according to plan, and Sulan even makes a new friend named Gun who offers to train her, until The League terrorists kidnap Sulan and her friends.
The dystopian America Picott paints in Sulan is realistic, she uses contemporary themes such as global warming and deficit fears as a basis for the collapse of her society, and as a result it immediately engages the reader. Spring-boarding off of these themes, she creates a world in which, in order to survive, people have come to rely on the companies that employ them for housing, food and security. The western world is now left vulnerable and Picott’s eastern antagonists, terrorists with Asian accents who hide behind SmartPlastic masks, leave us with more questions than answers about who the true villain, the orchestrator behind the scene, really is.
Picott’s writing style in this novel is interesting, her main protagonist is a teen aged girl who narrates the story in first person, yet the character’s voice is matter of fact, logical and, for the most part, devoid of emotion. I found the voice surprisingly masculine, focused more on action than feeling and introspection. But this style lends a great pace to the story and the reader is quickly swept away by the rush of action packed events.
Overall, I found Sulan to be an enjoyable read. The plot is clever and easily appreciated by readers both young and old. Yet I will say that at times the characters, with the exception of Uncle Zed, felt a bit thin and indistinct. But it is clear that Episode One is the tip of a huge and exciting iceberg and I can’t wait to see what Picott has in store for Sulan next.