my dudes bibliophiles!
I think this may be the first sci-fi eARC that I’ve ever gotten, so it’s nice to get something from my favorite genre. I’d read Bowman’s Contagion duology beforehand and enjoyed it, so I figured that it would be interesting to delve into her newest project. And while it wasn’t without its flaws, Dustborn was a perfectly tense dystopian novel!
Enjoy this eARC review!
The only world that Delta of Dead River has ever known is a wasteland. In her dwindling pack, she and her family struggle to get by. But when her pack is raided, she is forced to escape, armed only with the clothes on her back and her sister’s newborn baby.
Delta soon discovers that the world beyond her pack is lawless, filled with rulers who drill fear into colonies of helpless workers, and secrets that are best kept under wraps. And to make matters worse, she has a target on her back–literally; branded on her back is a map that leads to the Verdant, a lush and green promised land that everyone in the Wastes seeks to get their hands on. With the help of a childhood friend, she may be the first to find it–but some things are too good to be true.
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
The Goodreads synopsis describes this novel as a mashup of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl, and even though I’ve never seen/read either of those, I definitely see where the vibe comes from. Dustborn is a tense and twisty dystopian novel, with notes of classic Westerns.
First, CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS? The color scheme. The art. The typeface. THE REY VIBES. Even though this definitely wasn’t my favorite novel, I wouldn’t say no to a poster of this for my room.
Now…[ahem] I should probably talk about the book now, shouldn’t I?
Let’s start off with Delta. I wasn’t a huge fan of her character–she was that classic, dystopian teenager who’s been hardened by all of the horrific things she’s seen and done, and has built up this impenetrably tough skin as a result. She’s closed off, and she thinks she knows everything, even though she’s…what, 17? I get it, living as a semi-nomad in a barren wasteland does some nasty stuff to the brain, but it didn’t make for a very likable character. It did, however, make her a nice guinea pig for some well-needed character development. Plus, that kind of character is the perfect kind of character to interact with a baby…because she KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT CHILDREN, AND IT’S HILARIOUS.
As far as the other characters went, I wasn’t super attached to any of them. I felt ambivalent about most of them–I didn’t hate anybody, but I didn’t want to die for anybody, either. Delta and Asher’s friends-to-lovers dynamic was cute, even though the romance felt a bit like it was needlessly shoehorned in there to appease the Teenage™️ audience, but it wasn’t egregiously bad, or anything.
The plot itself was easily the most enjoyable part of the novel for me. Filled with rich imagery and no shortage of fascinating plot twists, Dustborn definitely kept me guessing in the best ways. Still not my ideal novel, but Bowman is the master of tense sci-fi, where it be in a lifeless wasteland (this one) or on an alien planet with the dangers of a deadly virus (Contagion). I liked the latter better (even though book 2 wasn’t as good), but this was still entertaining.
Overall, a bleak dystopia that was lacking in likable characters, but made up for it with its imagery and plot twists. 3 stars!
Expected release date: April 20, 2021
GUILTY PLEASURE SONG TIME–
That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!