In this first book of the Antius Ascending series, Cori is a fish out of water in post-apocalyptic America. She's an orphan who was brought to the colony of Antius at age seven. No matter how she tries over the next ten years, she doesn't fit in. All she can think about is escaping. But the security to keep the wild things out, keeps her prisoner. So she plans and plots and sneaks out at night with various escape plans, but as bad as it seems, it gets worse when the colony leader dies and his cruel son Nathan takes over.
The conflict between Cori and Nathan is balanced by her friendship with another young adult, Dylan, who is determined to help her escape. Except when Nathan takes over, the rules change. Cori is immediately enrolled in Nathan's militia training, a brutal training camp that's designed to break her. However, as time passes and she out performs her "class" of six, she gets assigned to the trade security line of work. The more she learns about the different layers of society, the more she realizes her chances of escaping are close to zero.
Cori must keep her wits about her to survive in this dystopian world. She's seen firsthand that the smallest of sleights to their Sovereign Nathan is a death sentence. Can she beat this terrible man and save herself?
I admired Cori's character arc, and her unswerving focus. She's gutsy and brave, physically tough and yet emotionally vulnerable, compassionate and resolute - all of this at 17!
ER Arroyo is a fine writer, and this is a story I will read again, which is a high compliment in my world.
Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews