Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Promise Kept (Brandy Hunt)

Overall: 3.3
  • Plot: 3.4/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 1.8/5
  • Believability: 3/5

Promise Kept by Brandy Hunt

In a world full of the relics of the past and the toys of the future, Lila Howell is a psychic who struggles to remain ethical in the face of her government's demands. Finding her to valuable to force into the role the Security Ministry wants her to take, the government allows her to take the job she was trained for, archival historian. In this role, she is still controllable and they can still use her gifts.

Currently, her government is demanding that she use her job, interviewing people for the Passing Project, in order to retrieve information from Susanne Newton. Susanne Newton is in her nineties and is something of a hero in the formation of the current regime, the New Dawn. This regime insists that Susanne Newton is keeping information from them and has been for years.

Lila must make a decision between keeping her life or reaching for something more. She is being pressured on all sides to made a decision between the ethics that go along with her gift and the life that Susanne describes. Will she make the right decision?.
Genre: Fantasy,
Science Fiction
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After the Passing, or the fall of the American government, a period of warlord rule was finally broken by the death of the last warlord and the establishment of the New Dawn government. Lives are heavily controlled, from food rations to intelligence tests for job placement. To avoid repeating the series of events that led to the breakdown of the previous government, archivists like psychic Lila Howell are sent to obtain "passings", or life stories, from the elderly who lived through the chaos. Susanne Newton, a legend in her own right, is Lila's latest assignment.

One of the interesting parts about this timeline is that the blandly stated chronological list is later fleshed out through Susanne's recording sessions. The "facts" themselves are dry, but her flashbacks lend them substance and feeling, allowing us to see what it was like living under near-starvation conditions and trying to establish a life for herself when few options were available. These scenes also serve the secondary purpose of offering insight into Susanne's character, allowing us to see her as a more than a cantankerous old woman.

Even more fascinating than this woman's life is the discordance between the New Dawn government and the rural homesteads. In many dystopian fantasies, controlling regimes are opposed by militant rebels or technological gurus. In Promise Kept, the source of trouble is the farms that are self-sustaining and have no need for New Dawn's offerings. The intricacies of this interplay are revealed as Lila tries to reconcile Susanne's stories with her upbringing in the government crèche. The internal conflict and eventual transformation remain my favorite aspect of this book.

Unfortunately, all is not sunshine and roses. The novel is heavily in need of editing, from redundancies within paragraphs to awkward, confusing sentences that had me wondering what the author was trying to say. Words were split unnecessarily (e.g. "straight forward" for "straightforward") and stilted dialogue made several passages painful to work through. There was even one instance in which Lila underwent an unintentional change in her last name.

The major plot twist was rather difficult to swallow given the world that the author had created up to that point. Equally befuddling was a sudden shift in Lila's personality at around the same time. In many ways, I felt as if I were suddenly reading a different book entirely. Luckily, some footing was regained by the end of the novel.

Promise Kept is a great story for fans of Robin Hood and the idea of the masses fighting a government that has grown too big for its britches. A word of warning, however: the entire book is written in Courier font, and I was unable to change it to something more aesthetically pleasing on my Kindle.

(Review copy provided by the author)

3 comments:

brandyhuntebooks said...

I want to thank you for this review. I didn't know about the problem with font on the Kindle, and I will try to get that fixed when I get someone to do my copy edit. I know it's not your job to give contructive criticism, so I always try to thank reviewers who take that time to do so.

Alice said...

You're very welcome. Good luck with the sequel! (I'm assuming there is one.)

brandyhuntebooks said...

Yes, eventually, there will be. The most horrible draft is done, now I just need to edit it. :D

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