Book 1 of The Badlands
As debut novels go Wasteland has a great deal to offer readers; particularly those who enjoy the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre.
Set in a not too distance future, in a world that has been ravaged by climate change, disease, and war, what was once the United States of America, is no more. Political allyships destroyed, the National Armed Forces (NAF) are now in charge, with the sole aim of destroying the Resistance and all Resistance aligned towns and villages.
Danielle Clark has left her Resistance days behind her. The loss of her father by the hands of the NAF, set her on the path of destruction, but after a tragic accident hurt the person she cares about the most, Dani knows it’s time to take her brother and live a quiet life someplace else.
Major Katelyn Turner has never been seen as the daughter that she is. With her mother now General Turner and leader of the NAF, Kate knows she was only ever been seen as a means of succession for the family name. Despite family tensions, Kate’s always believed in what she’s been taught about the Resistance, their allies, and Dani Clarke. The problem is, she’s about to find out not everything is quite what she’s been lead to believe.
As the lines between enemies blur and conflicts of interest arise, both Kate and Dani must decide who they are willing to trust and how much they are prepared to put on the line for a shot at love.
It’s worth noting at this point, that this is an extremely slow burn book, to the point where there’s very little romance to be had. It does however feel right for the story and most importantly the characters. Dani and Kate are sworn enemies who in reality know nothing about each other, besides what they have been subjectively told by others. As such it would have felt particularly unrealistic to have them swoon into each others arms as soon as they set eyes on each other. The authors have done a fantastic job of keeping the romance elements in line with the personalities of Dani and Kate, whilst feasibly accounting for their opposing positions within the Resistance and the NAF.
The story is told from a first person point of view, in the present tense, which is my least favourite perspective and took some getting used to. But the interesting plot and array of supporting characters made up for it. I particularly liked Dani’s brother – Lucas, who i took to be neurodivergent. However, whilst it was great to find the story includes diverse and inclusive characters, i felt the authors missed the mark with Lucas’ age. He’s meant to be in his late twenties, but reads a hell of a lot younger, maybe mid-teens? He’s depicted as being more than capable, so I’m not sure it was the intention of the authors to have it read as if he’s younger than his years.
Wasteland is a story that will keep you on your toes, there’s a lot of action to be had, and you’re never quite sure which direction the plot is going in – never mind who to trust! There’s also compelling points to delve into; from the warring emotions of revenge and redemption to the exploration of parent/child relationships.
The book ends on a gigantic cliff-hanger; a cliff-hanger which locks in the desire to read book two in the series!