Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Precisely Terminated

In her first-ever novel, Amanda Davis tells the story of a dystopian future wrought with manipulation, danger, and helplessness. Even so, hope has an interesting role to play as well—through many sacrificial and kind-hearted characters—which sets this tale apart from most others in its genre.

The fictional world of Cantral is inhabited by various classes of people, all of which have been implanted with small microchips. These chips force obedience from their hosts, or cause their deaths if certain tasks and rules are not followed completely. As the only one in Cantral without a chip, Monica is the world’s one hope of freedom from these deadly devices and the supercomputers that govern them.

All-in-all, the world system in Precisely Terminated runs well with the story. As this dystopian tale keeps otherwise-complex subjects relatively simple, it’s a great entry novel for adults and teens alike who have never read the genre. Monica’s goals are instantly clear, and the workings of Cantral are easy to grasp and equally plausible. Some readers may feel a bit empty for answers by the end, as the novel doesn’t say much about how the world came to be in its current condition, but I have confidence that—with two books to go in the series—there’s still a lot of ground left to cover.

As a Christian author, Amanda Davis keeps her novels free of language, sex, and other blights that plague a majority of the secular YA shelf. Parents and readers should note that a sort of despair hangs over portions of the book, however, and that there are a few instances of violence that may give younger readers pause. For example, one character loses part of a finger to a whirling blade. It is also discussed that—in order to get one of Monica’s earliest chips—a council member had used a fan to slice open the skull of a dead girl. This mature content makes Precisely Terminated an excellent read for teens, though some of younger readers may be bothered by the few instances of graphic violence.

Though there are few references to Christianity at the start of the novel, by the end these things start to seep in. Between an entry in a character’s diary and a not-so-subtle hint from the author in the acknowledgements, it’s clear that Amanda plans to slowly pour more and more Christian allusion into her trilogy. I expect the second novel, Nobel Imposter, will contain even more.

A relatively small cast keeps this tale of light in darkness quite simple. The central characters are delightfully flawed and relatable, and I look forward to seeing new additions introduced to the core group. Through clever and creative devices, Amanda gives Precisely Terminated an interesting, but adrenaline-laced, edge. Most importantly, this is one dystopian novel that doesn’t leave readers in the depths of helplessness. Hope acts as a silent vigilant throughout the story, and by its end, the dawn of freedom begins to break over the horizon of despair.

I wish my best to Amanda and her journey as an author. She has succeeded in producing an eye-catching tale of courage, sacrifice, and faith. If you’re looking for a clean, exciting new trilogy to sit alongside your Chronicles of Narnia, Dragons in our Midst, and Sword of the Dragon series, then go pick up Precisely Terminated. It’s a great way to enter the dystopian genre without wading through all of the depressing, godless muck.

In the mean time, I think I’ll pick up Noble Imposter and see what trouble Monica lands herself in next…  

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