Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Darklandia by T. S. Welti

by T.S. Welti

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 201
Publisher: Blackhill Publishing
Release date: October 22, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia, science fiction

From Goodreads:
"Manhattan, 2147

Seventeen-year-old Sera Fisk gleefully celebrates the death of her 114-year-old great-grandmother, the last Atraxian alive who still remembers what New York was like before Felicity.

There is only one principle of Felicity: Suffering is optional. Those who disagree or forget this principle, as Sera's father did, are detained and “purified”. Through the use of the Darklandia virtual reality and mandatory water rations, the Department of Felicity has transformed metropolises all over the country into happy, obedient communities.

Inspired by her great-grandmother's last words, Sera stops drinking the water rations and is soon recruited by Nyx into a rebel organization in the midst of planning a full-scale attack on Darklandia. When Nyx attempts to override the Darklandia system, he stumbles upon shocking information about Sera and her family. After years of living in a haze of virtual reality and drugs, Sera finds herself running from a powerful surge of raw emotions and a government agency intent on keeping reality a secret.

{ I received a Kindle edition for free through Early Reviewers on LibraryThing. }

My wishlist for Darklandia:

{ I wish I could come up with such an amazing dystopian idea. }
The idea of Felicity and a virtual reality amusement park are truly brilliant. So much potential behind them. I love dystopian novels that really create a sort of other-worldly atmosphere, despite the fact that they're set in familiar places. Welti nailed it.

{ I wish we had gotten to see a little more of Darla. }
As Sera's closest friend, I wanted to be shown more about her character. It was like she was there but not, always on the periphery, not really totally involved. So much so that when I got to the revelation of her fate, I read it and thought, "Eh." Which I'm pretty sure was not the reaction Welti intended readers to have. If I had gotten to know Darla a little better, I'm sure I would have had a much stronger reaction.

{ I wish we had gotten a little more romance between Nyx and Sera. }
It's pretty clear from the moment Nyx appears in the story that he's going be Sera's romantic interest. And while I did really like the slow building of their relationship, I just wanted a tiny bit more romance. I kept waiting for a big moment between them, but the romance stayed subtle and subdued. Which, under the circumstances they were facing, is understandable. But still, they were a cute couple and I just wanted to see them act on it a little more.

{ I wish I understood the ending. }
I have no idea what it meant. I read it three times and I still don't know. I have ideas (SPOILER - highlight to read: Is Sera still trapped in virtual reality? Was the entire book a dream? An extended virtual reality session? Was the final chapter just a flashback to previous events that Sera doesn't remember? But...the dates don't make sense. Sera in 2147 vs Sera in 2015?), but none of them seem like the right answer. I generally love when writers spring a surprise ending, but this one went right over my head. I really wish I understood what happened; since I don't, the whole thing feels rather incomplete.

Overall, it was a great story with a brilliant dystopian setting and I tore through it in a matter of days, which is why I gave it 4 stars despite some of my wishes. According to T. S. Welti's website, there will be a sequel to Darklandia, so I'm definitely going to pick that up and see if it explains/expands upon the ending.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Learn more about T. S. Welti on her blog,
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