Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Altered Destiny by Shawna Thomas

Altered Destiny
Altered Destiny by Shawna Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To put it quite bluntly, I didn't love this book, but I respected the hell of out it. It actually reminded me of a cross between Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear and Elizabeth Vaughan's Warprize series.

Altered Destiny is your classic 'two races divided by racial prejudice/historical malfeasance are now at war over land/resources' story. Neither side is blameless nor 'good.' What really intrigued me about this book is the world Thomas created. She gives us just enough of the back story that the reader can make certain assumptions, but doesn't provide anything concrete. It appears that Altered Destiny is set on our world after a nuclear event that destroyed most of the existing civilizations and altered or mutated what remained. However, it could just as easily been some alien world where there was some kind of solar event. Thomas makes reference to animals and plant life that fit what currently exists, but they are different enough to indicate we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Except for horses. Horses don't seem to be any different, which I'm guessing was a convenience thing, because they are the main mode of transportation. This world seems to be at the technology equivalent of the 1700s.

Despite the skillful world building, this is a four star book for me because of two related reasons. First off, this is a book about war. It may be a war fought with bows and arrows, but it is a war nonetheless. Hard decisions must be made and there is collateral damage. This leads into the second reason: Thomas kills off a significant secondary character. It was a death that meant something and did help the story advance, but damn, it was heavy. This is not a book to be read as stress relief.

I do recommend this book, but know what you're getting into. There are a few sex scenes, but I feel like this would be a good rec for older high school students. It's got that apocalypse feel, a dash of vampirism, and an ending that offers a measure of realistic hope for the future.

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