Monday, 17 June 2013

Book: Land of the Unaltered by Leti Del Mar

Book 1 of the Confederation Chronicles.

I was given an advanced copy of Land of the Unaltered by the author in return for a review. The book is released tomorrow (there is a link to the amazon page on my Reviews for Authors/Goodreads page.

Rose is a Dartmoor, the ruling family with a not too great reputation. Living in the capital city of the Confederation of cities, Rose lives in a superficial world where fashion and physical enhancements and changes are the number one priority, even going as far as regular plastic surgery. By refusing to be altered, Rose is treated like a freak, and so she decides to move to Eureka, one of the other cities, to live with her Aunt Ivy. While there she works for Flynn Rivers, the shy and social awkward son of Eureka's mill owner. To start with, Flynn is nervous of the new girl, worried she'll be a normal capital bred brat, but as time goes on they both see past each others first impressions and more grows. Then on one disastrous trip to collect tree samples, they stumble across something that will change both their lives drastically.

I've found an issue with advanced reading, I now have to wait even longer for the sequel! From reading this book it is very clear that the author is planning on writing a sequel, and not just because of the unanswered questions left at the end. The way the whole book was written seemed geared towards it. Despite the fact that that may sound negative, I didn't think it was. Del Mar spent more time in developing her characters and their relationships, which will make future books be able to focus on events realistically.

The book being told from both Rose and Flynn's perspectives, it was easy to tell that they weren't clear cut characters from the start. They both had prejudices about the other and they didn't seem to particularly get on at first. During the first half of the book it felt that the pair of them were learning to work together as a team and starting to actually like each other as people, not instantly in love kind of like each other, more like becoming friends, though eventually it does, inevitably, lead to more.

Flynn didn't magically lose his awkwardness when Rose expressed an interest in him, if anything his character got more awkward, and because the author chose to narrate partly from his point of view, this became an endearing trait for the character. He also isn't all that black and white, the event that happened early on with Ellis, though portrayed as a knight in shining armour moment, actually was quite a bad thing to do. This really does add more realistic levels to the character, and ultimately makes them more believable.

Similarly Rose wasn't afraid to use her name and her position to intimidate certain people, though on the whole she kept her identity a secret, as did her aunt. Again this isn't the act of a morally 'white' person, you're venturing more into grey, as I said for Flynn, this adds to the complexity and the realistic feel of the character, and in both cases it has intrigued me as to where the characters will go in further books.

The author describes this as a romance dystopian, and though romance is a key part of the book I wouldn't be entirely sure that that was the correct summary. It is true that there was more focus on characters and relationships than in other dystopias, but as I mentioned above I liked that for a first book of a series, yet at the same time I didn't feel like it was overwhelmingly romantic or focused on the cushy side of it. And there are definite hints at bigger problems in the society.

The dystopia itself was only partly revealed and was revealed slowly, something that I found worked, you don't know everything so have to try and work it out from what you do know. I'd say that a true opinion of the dystopian setting would be better left until after the next book.

One thing that did frustrate me slightly were the fairly frequent typos, and in some cases same sounding words used wrongly (e.g. site instead of sight). However, I found the story, characters and book in general, engaging and just wanted to keep reading, so I feel that I can over look a couple of typos with ease!

I would certainly recommend this book, the characters are well formed and there is a lot of promise for books to come!