Made in a lab, Ashe was manufactured to be a genetically perfect specimen and raised to be a leader, a soldier. Until one day she fought back… at a terrible cost.
Ashe and her remaining family flee towards the city of Luca, a dark, grim metropolis riddled with violence and disease. Despite this, and the loss that haunts them still, they manage to thrive and stay hidden from their creators. All that is threatened when Ashe saves the life of Nick, a member of the resistance group known as Phoenix. Nick is convinced that Ashe is the key to bringing down a corrupt government and building a better tomorrow, and Ashe finds herself increasingly drawn to him.
But then the past catches up to them, and Ashe is forced to finally confront her true purpose...
I took a chance on this book and boy am I glad I did! I read it in a day – whoops. The Phoenix Project is a group of people who are working underground to help end the division of society and protect those who can’t help themselves. Their Phoenix emblem is prominent in the slum like areas where Ashe lives and this inspires her name, a name she gives to herself.
Told from first person perspective throughout, the first chapter throws you through the ringer as a reader. I very quickly got attached to Ashe and her mix of family (others also genetically made), the author developed fantastic connections which I rarely find. Yes, I mostly get attached to characters regardless, but not as quickly as I was with Ashe. That is some feat. There’s also the consequences of her running away from the lab and gosh, how I can fall so deeply for someone lost in the FIRST chapter is incredible – if somewhat frustrating.
As the story progressed, I felt some tones similar to novels such as the hunger games, that dystopian feel where a specific character, the main one in this case, takes on a role much larger than herself in a bid to overcome corruption and class division.
I have read many other books with the same element of being raised as something different, in a lab or other sterile environment, but this a different feel to me. The author excelled in navigating a very sci-fi-esque topic. We are yet to understand much about the mystery surrounding exactly who these children and teenagers are, or how they are made, but I am certainly looking forward to reading about it!
Ashe is the main character who is roughly eighteen years old. She is not that complex a character, at least I don’t think so and I’ll explain why. We know how she was brought up in a testing lab, and we know the strong emotions she has about protecting her found family, these two things work together to form the back-bone of her character make-up. This is her driving force through the story. It is that simple: she will not risk her family's freedom.
Her family come in the form of Mi, short for Michael, who is the same age as Ashe. He was blinded in an accident but is still more capable than most ‘seeing’ people given his own super abilities. He seems quite sensitive and I’d love to get to know him better as the trilogy progresses. There is nothing but familial love between Ashe and Mi. Next is Abi who is slightly younger at around 14 – she appears to be a bit softer than Ashe, more artistic, but has a very cool supercomputer brain. When I say soft, I certainly do not mean weak. She is quite resilient and supportive of her older ‘sister’, and, a capable fighter. Finally we have Ben, an 8 year old who Ashe pretty much raised from a baby within the lab hence why she sees him as her own. There is definitely more of a parental love aspect about their relationship and it was quite special to see. Love little Ben!
Nick is the love interest, a normal human involved in the resistance. I like Nick and the author does a good job of building a solid connection between the two characters but I’m not going to say anymore as I need to see more myself before I make a final verdict on him.
Gabe is the last important person to note. He is not involved after the first chapter and I don’t think I’ve been as close to crying as I have over a character quite so soon after meeting them, but Ashe keeps his memory alive throughout the story. Her perception of him, how even in death he influences a lot of her choices, had me falling in love with the very idea of his character. I won’t say any more as it gets complicated because of her relationship with Nick – which I’m not entirely on board with but only because of this emotional connection she had with Gabe before he was killed. (I know I say I don’t talk about spoilers but I don’t consider this one as his death literally occurs within the first chapter).
Not that I'm bitter that I've been made to love a dead character.
Was the story gripping?:
Honestly, I thought I was just doing a fellow indie author a favour by reading their book. It was free for me to read as I have kindle unlimited; I’d seen her promote her book on twitter and the concept was one that had me fairly intrigued, I kept wondering and thought I might as well read it. I was in for a surprise when I was actually hooked. The concept is great, the characters are utterly believable who develop and grow as the story does, and I found myself enjoying the voice. The author’s writing voice (Ashe’s narration) was easy to follow which is a major draw for me. I like easy books because I WANT to be dragged into their world, I can’t do that if I’m having to really concentrate just to follow the story.
Word of warning, the ending is one heck of a cliff-hanger! I was expecting it (or hoping it would lead that way after some key events along the way) but I was still like ‘woah!’…and I say no more.
This book is perfect if you’re looking for:
✓ A sci-fi element about engineering super humans, but not overbearing that you can’t understand what’s going on
✓ Strong and gripping voice from the lead character and deep connections with others
✓ A somewhat dystopian/hunger games vibe that deals with splitting society into classes and a corrupt government
✓ A book that delivers romance and love in more than one way
✓ Cliff-hangers that make you go: ‘Say what?!’ (not my reaction at all…)
Another book that I highly recommend. I read the sample (a feature of Amazon’s) one night and then I downloaded the rest of the book the next day and devoured it. It was a nice break from my own editing and writing as my first passion is, and always will be, reading. Such an enjoyable read.
I have been informed that book 2 is intended for release during MAY so keep your eyes peeled. I will be downloading and reading straightaway - I’ll only stop reading to let you guys know it’s available. You’re welcome.
A final word…if you do read this book (and I hope you do), consider leaving a review on Amazon if you enjoyed it. I, myself, have to get better at doing this. Authors always appreciate reviews as it helps their work to be seen by others and supports authors to write more books. That can only be a good thing!
Available on Amazon in kindle (£1.99) and paperback (£8.99) formats*.
Free for Kindle unlimited users!
*Correct at the time blog publication.