PARADIGM by Ceri A. Lowe
I received a free advanced copy of this book in return for an honest book review from netgalley.com
PARADIGM is the first in what eventually will be a trilogy about a future “after the end of the world.” What happens when natural disasters have destroyed human civilization? What happens to the few survivors of an apocalypse?
About the Story
In this story, climate change and dramatic sea level rise have destroyed major population centers, specifically London. It isn’t the story of how or why these changes happened. Instead it’s the story of two survivors of that disaster: one, Alice, alive at the time of the disaster, one, Carter, alive some 87 years later. Before the apocalypse, Alice was a young girl whose life was disintegrating. Barely scratching out a living on the margins of society with a mother who was mostly absent and a prostitute, Alice had few prospects for any kind of hope. Ultimately rescued by the mysterious private entity, Paradigm Industries, she turns her life around in Paradigm Industries’ new social order and becomes a leader with the power to impose her perspective on the future generations. What is that vision?
Alice’s vision, now crumbling, is what Carter has to deal with 87 years later. Carter has recently been resurrected from cold sleep because he has the potential to be the new leader of the society–after many decades, the social workings that Alice helped create has begun to fall apart in ways hinted at but not fully explained. The Industry (the new name for this society of survivors) needs new leadership, and looks to three candidates, Carter among them, to literally save the world. Carter, meanwhile, tries to understand the changes since he was last awakened. Hints of an uprising–a rebel group wanting to overthrow the harshly tyrannical leadership of the Industry–are in the air…and both the rebels and the Industry look to Carter to be the leader to accomplish their opposite goals. Which will he choose? Is he the one destined to save the last remnants of humanity?
Book Review of the Story
Although this stars young adults as both Alice and Carter, the story does not come across as a “teen” or “YA” novel. (That’s a good thing.) The ages of these characters, while not totally irrelevant, doesn’t matter much, other than to point out that they are both exceptional for any age of person. In other words, this book is definitely cross-over; it can be enjoyed by either an adult or a YA audience.
This story is one that starts fairly slowly and has a very negative “vibe” to it in the beginning–perhaps understandable because it shows the end of the world (as Alice experiences it) and the negative aspects of the society 87 years later as Carter experiences it after his reawakening. The story bounces between these two story lines. The writing is good and eventually Carter and Alice both became important people. Carter more so than Alice, at least for me. Perhaps that is because Alice’s story line is ultimately negative throughout. After all, though her personal destiny dramatically improves, she is the architect of policies that, after echoing through 9 decades, result in the tyranny of Carter’s world. And, frankly, she was not a particularly likable or interesting character for me. I tended to read much faster over her sections of the story.
The ending is a twist, but not a total surprise. Though it took me a while to get caught up by this story, once I did so, I found it enjoyable, intriguing, and an original new perspective on what might really happen after the end of the world. I found myself looking forward to the next stage of this journey into a possible future. I just hope it focuses more on Carter’s timeline than Alice’s.
Notes on This Edition
In the Kindle edition, I found many places where quotations around dialogue were missing–usually the opening quote was missing, but the closing quote was there; occasionally vice versa. This also uses British rather than US quotation style (i.e., single quotes ‘around dialogue’ rather than the US preference for double quotes “around dialogue”)–just a heads-up for readers who might otherwise find that confusing. This is from a British publisher.
The Bottom Line
FOUR STARS. Recommended. PARADIGM is a dystopian SF story with an original, interesting take on the world after apocalypse happens.