I’m not sure how this review is going to go, but I absolutely LOVED this book. Set in a future post-apocalyptic dystopian Paris, people in society are divided into the four elements, with each type of Elemental being conditioned to a different type of personality and job. Fire Elementals are the Peacekeepers (police) and Rescuers. Air Elementals are the artists, musicians, and literature experts. Water Elementals are tech-focused, and Earth Elementals are the lowly laborers. Every element has its place. To go against the rules of the Orthodoxy means you are Heterodox, and must die. Into this society, a small wrench is thrown in the form of murals preaching Resistance, a forbidden word. Anaiya, a Fire Peacekeeper, is given the chance to find the leader of the resistance in order to nip it in the bud, but in order to do so, she has to lose her identity.
Okay, I’ll be real, I read a TON of dystopian fiction. Most of it is in the Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium, etc. vein. Usually, they’re predictable, and have a lot of the same tropes. I felt differently about this one, though. It has a darker underlying tone than most of the other dystopians I’ve read. It’s grittier. Anaiya is also a fascinating character, and we see everything from her perspective. At the beginning, before the big resistance plot starts, following her around is a bit unsettling. Fire Elementals don’t really have emotions like we do, and I found myself easing into this world with some trepidation. Once the plot really kicks into gear, though, it becomes even more interesting as things develop and we have words for and understand what Anaiya is feeling, even when she has no vocabulary or comprehension herself. Throughout, she is pretty interesting, even if at times you want to ask her what the hell she’s thinking. I really wanted her to make different choices a lot of the time, but I’m also glad she didn’t…because what I wanted would’ve been trope-y and predictable, and I’m so much more satisfied with the messiness I got.
The world building is also very well done. From the get go, we’re just thrown in willy nilly to the world. Full force. At first, it’s confusing. Then, as you realize what’s going on and the way the society is structured, you come to understand it, and then maybe revile it, though the concept is also intriguing. There’s a fresh blend of neuroscience and everyday life here, and it also doesn’t feel super far-fetched in a very terrifying way. The other thing I liked aobut how the world was built was that I didn’t get all of the answers I wanted in this book. There’s inklings of how the society is managed, but I want to know who’s at the top, pulling the puppet strings, and I’m hoping to get more of that in future installments of the series. There are still things to discover here, and that’s always fantastic.
If you’ve ever read my blog before, you’ll also know I’m a huge sucker for characters. Development, interesting side characters, I love it all. While they weren’t all super well-developed, the people Anaiya encounters as she builds relationships on her mission are varied. Through her eyes, their group dynamics are a little muddled, but still clear enough to figure out when you read between the lines. I like that I had to work for the information I got, and I had to puzzle it out, just as Anaiya was. It added to the mystery of her mission, and I was super invested in the side characters, wanting them so much to survive and thrive in this crazy society (well, for the most part).
Overall, Resistance is a masterpiece of dystopian fiction, in my mind. It’s engaging and hard to put down, and I found myself yelling and cursing at people in the book, as if they could hear me. There’s no happily ever after here, there’s no easy answers or choices, and there’s plenty moral gray areas. As you learn and grow beside Anaiya, you come to see the society as it really is, even if you don’t know all of the big players. This is dark, my friends, and the ending will feel awful. However, there’s hope, as it is the first in a series. Please do yourself a favor if you like dystopian novels or speculative fiction, and pick this one up when it releases Friday, Jan. 20.
Note: I received this book from Netgalley & Kyrija Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Rating: 5 out of 5