June 14, 2014

Review: After the Parch

After the Parch by Sheldon Greene
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
Release Date: March 21, 2014
Buy Links:

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Book Description:

It's 2075. California is nothing like we know it. The USA has broken up and California has become an independent refuge dominated by a single omnipotent corporation. Eighteen-year-old Bran, a shepherd, is given a mission to traverse the California republic in ten days, in order to save his rural community from forfeiting its land. 

On the way, he teams up with a seventeen-year-old girl who has the skills and prowess of a warrior, an eleven-year-old wild boy with uncanny survival skills, and a wandering musician with a secret revolutionary agenda. After the Parch is a fast-paced, vivid, dystopian fantasy with a chilling resemblance to the way we are, and a vision of what we might become. 

It's a well-crafted story and the plot flows naturally from one crisis to another, with three-dimensional characters right up to the taut and positive climax. Sheldon Greene has been called "a born storyteller" by the Los Angeles Times for his book Lost and Found (Random House). This is his fifth novel. "I felt the need to describe our country as what it might become if we continue on the current trajectory." 

He is a lawyer and an executive in a wind energy development company, and has a background of high impact public interest litigation in health care, labor law, land policy, and immigration. He also sings in the Oakland Symphony Chorus and serves on several boards

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"After the Parch" by Sheldon Greene was a book that was hard for me to get into. It's a young adult book set in a dystopian setting in future California, which has been separated from the rest of the country, and follows the adventure of an 18-year-old boy named Bran. Bran has 10 days to travel through California even though he has never really left his home before and needs to secure a permit for his community's land from being taken away.

Naturally, things don't go as smoothly for Bran as he thought and hoped that they would. Things start off with the bus that he's supposed to take most of the way crashing, and he has to fend for himself from there. This is a future where most people are only out for themselves and Bran has to get where he needs to go safely without being robbed on the way. The pacing of the book is fast as we travel along with Bran for these 10 days through his California

I started out by saying that it was hard for me to get into this story, and that proved true throughout the majority of the book. For awhile when I first started reading, I actually kept putting the book down and reading other things. It wasn't until I was maybe one-third into it that the story started to pick up and get a bit more interesting. However, even then, I never felt completely invested in "After the Parch".

Part of the problem for me was that I found myself not caring too much about any of the characters. All of them came off as one note, and there wasn't real reason to root for them. Without in depth characters, there wasn't much motivation to keep turning the pages in order to see where their adventure took them.

There was also no actual ‘villain’ character to root against. Sure, we had a big corporation that was made out to be the bad guy (thanks to some explaining by the character Nikanor, who was a rebel leader), but without a set face of someone to defeat, there didn't seem to be many stakes in this dystopian story.

I think there could have also been a lot more world building. Greene gives us some political background on what happened to California through Nikanor explaining it to Bran, but I was still left with questions on how the world got to be the way it is. The book is titled "After the Parch" because there was a huge draught, but I finished the book without any explanation as to how the draught came to be when I thought I would get more back story on it.

If you're in the market for a new dystopian to read, I would keep looking. While "After the Parch" wasn't horrible, and was certainly readable, there's not much to make it stand out from the crowd.

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Author Bio:

Sheldon Greene is a critically acclaimed novelist who has been called “a born storyteller” by the Los Angeles Times for his book. Lost and Found (Random House); “immensely entertaining” by Dallas Morning News. This is his fifth novel. He is a lawyer, an executive in a wind energy development company, and has a background of high impact public interest litigation.


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