Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Review: External Forces (The Laws of Motion #1) by Deborah Rix

Release Date: September 13, 2013
Publisher: Dime Store Books
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
It’s 100 years since the Genetic Integrity Act was passed and America closed its borders to prevent genetic contamination. Now only the enemy, dysgenic Deviants, remain beyond the heavily guarded border. The Department of Evolution carefully guides the creation of each generation and deviations from the divine plan are not permitted.
When 16-year-old Jess begins to show signs of deviance she enlists in the Special Forces, with her best friend Jay, in a desperate bid to evade detection by the Devotees. Jess is good with data, not so good with a knife. So when the handsome and secretive Sergeant Matt Anderson selects her for his Black Ops squad, Jess is determined to figure out why.
As her deviance continues to change her, Jess is forced to decide who to trust with her deadly secret. Jess needs to know what’s really out there, in the Deviant wasteland over the border, if she has any hope of making it to her 17th birthday. Because if the enemy doesn’t kill her first, the Department of Evolution probably will.

Not sure this one will be for everyone, but it held my attention well enough to be enjoyable. It has a lot of the same components as several of the dystopians I've read lately, but with a few tweaks to keep it from being a carbon copy.

This seems fairly familiar to me...
In the United States people are now genetically engineered from birth to be perfect, and anyone who shows any imperfection is called a Deviant. If a child is born with a deviation, it is taken from it's parents and killed. However, occasionally babies slip though the cracks, so everyone is re-tested during adolescence just to make sure.
Here's a little tweak to keep things interesting...
At some point in the past, the government of the United States totally closed it's borders. Evidently, it was due to some sort of warning from the gods. Almost immediately following the shut-down, a bunch of natural disasters devastated the rest of the world. And this left the good ol' U.S. of A. the last functioning government that had any resources left. This transmission from a higher power is what America is now founded on, and the reason the Department of Evolution is in charge of everyone's lives. The DOE is a quasi-religious group that is a mixture of science, faith, and politics.
Goodbye separation of church and state...

The main character, Jess, has a small splotch that has recently appeared on her stomach, which makes her a target for the Devotees. She knows once her birthday rolls around she'll be tested and found out.
Devotees are the folks who ferret out the Deviants, by the way.
Jess also seems to have an affinity for technology, and is a bit of a small-time hacker. She plans to use her skill to get herself and her BFF into the military early. Hopefully, this should buy her some time to figure out what to do about the mole on her tummy. While she wants to avoid being inspected by the Devotees, her friend Jay wants to join to get away from his mother...who doesn't know he's gay. Surprisingly, it doesn't seem like being gay is considered a deviation, because other than his mamma everyone else seems to know about Jay's sexual preference.
Marks on your stomach will get you killed, but the religious fanatics in charge are ok with homosexuality?
Suuuure. That sounds reasonable.
Jess' mark isn't just sitting there, though. Nope. It's growing in direct correlation to strange adrenaline fueled moments, where it appears (to Jess) that she can slow time down.
Here's a mild spoiler, but I don't think it will surprise anyone. Even I knew as I was reading it that she wasn't slowing down time. She was just able to move faster than the average bear when she was in a stressful situation.
I'm not sure why the author thought it was a good idea to have Jess thinking she was a Time Lord for a large portion of the book. I'm really freakin' fast! makes more sense than I've slowed down everyone else on earth!
Maybe it's just me...but I don't think so.

Anyway, once Jess and Jay get into the army training camp, Jess catches the eye of a young (handsome) sergeant from a Black Ops squad. He seems to be tampering with her test results, but not always in a bad way. In fact, his interference allows her to pass the tests for using a gun. Although, she suspects he also had a hand in one of her other test scores lower.
I had some flashbacks to the Divergent series during this part of the book...

I have to say, that the last half of the book goes off in a pretty interesting direction, but I don't want to spoil anything...so I'll shut up.

Like I said, this isn't going to one I would recommend for everyone. Not only is it a dystopian (not everybody's cuppa), but it has a lot of elements that are going to make hard-core fans of this genre compare it to other books they've already read. My personal opinion is that the author was not being a copy-cat. It's just...well, there are only so many ways society can rise and fall, and it's a subject that's been fairly plundered in the past few years. I think it's only natural that some plot points will start to seem a bit repetitive. This may not seem like a glowing review, but I really did have fun reading the book.


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