This book review of Resistance by Jay Aspen was originally published on Reedsy Discovery, where I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Check that out here!
The heavens have blessed me lately with some dang good indie books. I know this is going to sound really pretentious, but it really is a gamble when it comes to reviewing self-published works. You don’t know until you get in there what quality of book you’re about to read, and that quality is a sliding scale.
(Arguably, the same is true of traditionally published works, but that’s a can of worms for another time.)
Thankfully, I’d already read one of Jay Aspen’s books before, so I already knew she was a solid writer. But wow, Resistance really impressed me with its world-building and character development! For someone who does not foray into dystopian very often, I am totally hooked.
Good thing it’s the first in a series!
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Resistance by Jay Aspen: Summary
A sinister attack. A dangerous city. An abandoned child.
The old cities are flooded, crops have failed, and resource wars have wrecked most things from refineries to satellites.
It was the day Jac discovered how precarious her life had become.
Her love of nature and loyalty to her remote forest community can no longer weave the illusion of safety she has believed in for so long. Driving damaged roads to a city she hasn’t seen for six years, Jac finds unexpected allies as well as disturbing truths about the ruthless Avarit imperium controlling their lives.
And then… she has never met anyone like Raine, the mysterious and charismatic leader of the outlawed forest rangers. She offers her medic skills to the Resistance, caught between Avarit military and the terrorist F2 gangs inflicting havoc on the city and Outlander communities.
But would you risk everything for freedom?
Resistance is the first book in the Phoenix Enigma series, the dystopian romance epic from Jay Aspen.
A tightly-plotted near-future dystopian with a great atmosphere and characters you can root for!
In a near-future dystopian version of Great Britain where a despotic megacorp known as Avarit controls, well, everything, a sharp young woman named Jac has to leave the comfort of her sheltered forest community to visit the city, only to learn just how deep and wide the corruption goes. After unknowingly saving the leader of the resistance, she finds herself drawn to the cause… and to him. *wink, wink*
From the very first chapter, I was drawn in. Aspen does a fantastic job setting the scene and putting you right into the action without disorienting you. However, she also keeps a very strong focus on character reactions and thought processes, which really helped ground me in the world in a way that sci-fi jargon simply couldn’t.
Which, speaking of sci-fi jargon, Aspen still does a great job of incorporating it without it feeling like endless exposition dumping–and I have a total monkey brain when it comes to catching worldbuilding details, so if I could follow along okay, that’s a huge point in its favor.
Our main protagonist, Jac, is smart, relatable, and felt like a real person. I liked that she wasn’t a warrior-huntress but still had real courage and gumption. I also loved her found family and the sweet relationship she had with her grandfather.
Meanwhile, Raine is strong, steadfast, and a total badass while still feeling human. I thought the build-up to him and Jac meeting was perfect; after all, I am a sucker for the “injured warrior needs a stranger’s help” trope. (Is that a trope? Well, it is now!) While I did think their romance came on a little fast, it’s still in its infancy, so I’m eager to see how it develops in later books.
The plot was also solid and fast-paced while still giving the characters a chance to breathe. While it is setting up a trilogy, there is a very clear sense of conflict and direction. I liked how everything converged in the end, though it left me with enough questions to want to read more!
Overall, I totally recommend this to dystopian fans, especially if you liked The Hunger Games!
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