Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Droughtlanders - Carrie Mac

Title: the Droughtlanders (Triskelia Book 1)
Author: Carrie Mac
Publisher: Puffin Canada, 2007 (Paperback)
Length: 347 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction
Started: February 7, 2010
Finished: February 9, 2010

From the publisher's website:
Twin brothers Seth and Eli Maddox are Keylanders brought up within the privileged and protected Eastern Key. Keylanders, the boys are told, must keep within their walls to avoid the filth and disease spread by the Droughtlanders—those who struggle to survive on the parched land between the Keys. But when Eli sees their mother helping one of the wretched Droughtlanders, a chain of terrible events begins to unravel the life they’ve all known and will pit brother against brother in a life-or-death struggle between two worlds. The first book in the Triskelia trilogy, The Droughtlanders is a brilliant blend of futuristic fantasy and gritty social realism, with unforgettable characters and a compulsively readable story.

When I read The Gryphon Project by the same author back in December, I wasn't crazy about the book (but loved the premise). I had read that the author's Triskelia trilogy came highly recommended, so I decided to track it down. After reading the first book, I've come to realize that I think it's simply the author's style that makes me not so crazy about her books. Again, I love the premise: post-apocalyptic world divided into the minority haves vs. the majority have-nots, characters that happen to be twins, one is delightedly evil, the other discovers his world is not how he perceives it, goes on long journey to discover the truth, brothers meet again and hash things out. The premise is golden but it didn't really grab me. I liked both brothers as characters, but Eli seemed to me almost too meek and mild for a 16 year old boy (the whole pants-wetting thing wasn't exactly believable). I just think the author went overboard with that aspect of his personality. Seth on the other hand is wonderfully evil, and I loved that cliche of the evil twin, but his transformation towards the end of the novel happened a bit too quickly without much transition. Even if he turns out to not be reformed and is playing everyone for a fool, the transition still could have happened more gradually so as to really fool the readers and make them wonder.

The plot starts out great and the main conflict presents itself quickly, but then it gets logged down with the journey motif and I began to lose interest. I could have cut out the parts with Nappo and Teal and just had Eli meet Trace and be on his way to Triskelia, that way he could have spent more time developing with the Triskelians rather than focusing on his getting there in the first place. I did like how it switched from Eli to Seth and back and forth to show their experiences in the Droughtlands. So in conclusion: excellent ideas, however, not well-executed enough to make me really get into the story. This is the first book in a trilogy so I'll check out the sequels and see if they're any better.

If you like dystopian fiction with a really intriguing family dynamic, read this! If you're looking for a great dystopian novel in general, there are better ones out there.

Thoughts on the cover:
The cover seems plain at first until you see all three books in the series side by side. The covers really look amazing together, very simple but very co-ordinated and cool.

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