Book Review: The Never Dawn, by R.E. Palmer

I review books on Amazon, but don’t often post reviews on my blog, but I just finished a book last night that I keep thinking about. It’s called The Never Dawn, by R.E. Palmer.

 

Description: All his young life, Noah has longed to see the sky he’s only heard about in stories. For over one hundred years, Noah’s people have toiled deep beneath the Earth preparing for The New Dawn – the historic day when they will emerge to reclaim the land stolen by a ruthless enemy.

 

All his young life, Noah has longed to see the sky he’s only heard about in stories. For over one hundred years, Noah’s people have toiled deep beneath the Earth preparing for The New Dawn – the historic day when they will emerge to reclaim the land stolen by a ruthless enemy.

 

But when Rebekah, the girl of his forbidden desire, discovers a secret their leader has been so desperate to keep, Noah suspects something is wrong. Together, they escape and begin the long climb to the surface. But nothing could prepare them for what awaits outside.

 

Review: I read and review a lot of books, but don’t often post the reviews here on my blog. I’m almost afraid to do it now because I get review requests weekly from authors looking for reviews. I get it–getting reviews is hard to do–but I only review books I find and browse on my own. It’s the only way I feel I can give an honest review because I have certain expectations when I’m searching for a book to read and when the cover and blurb seem to meet those expectations, then I buy or borrow the book. This particular book I found for free via Bookbot Bob. (I don’t know if it is still free, but I believe it is in KU)

 

Anyway, on to the review! At first, the dialogue seemed kind of stilted and odd, but then as I continued reading, I realized that was to convey how very different Noah’s life is from what we all know.

 

This dystopian novel is unusual in that the characters, due to their very different upbringing, are not the snarky know it all young adult characters who seem to populate most dystopian novels. They live such a sheltered life where everything comes from the revered Mother, that they seem to almost have a hive-like mentality. Consider them drones. The hierarchy is set at levels and each child, at about age 14, is directed to a level where they will stay…forever? I think. What happens after young adulthood isn’t clear and may be revealed in future books.

 

The premise is that a hundred years prior, something terrible happened and it drove the people down underground. There, they have waited generations for the air to be clean enough for them to return to the surface. They are told that there are enemies, though, and preparations needed before this glorious day can arrive. To that end, everyone works tirelessly–building the weapons and preparing for life above ground.

 

The levels reminded me of the old caste system in India. There are the lowest of the low who work in the trenches shoveling waste day in and day out. Then the mine workers, then the food servers, workers (of the farm, lab, or factory) and finally, the prefects–a benign term would be like hall monitors, but at times, they are more like the SS from Nazi Germany.

 

This whole set-up is well done and very interesting because knowledge is extremely segmented. There is very little interaction between people who are not directly on the characters small work team, which consists of about six workers who live in the same quarters after work. Everyone’s goal is to work to prepare for re-surfacing.

 

Everything is regulated by Mother. Food, clothing, jobs, schedule, and even their very dreams are all controlled by Mother–because Mother knows best. It’s a very creepy tagline that works well to set the mood. The perfect visual to convey this story is the old Apple MacIntosh computer commercial. That’s how I picture the characters and the plot of the book is how one person, Noah, starts to awaken from what amounts to brain-washing and realizing things aren’t what they seem. So, the dialogue is purposefully bland and stilted because the characters never reveal themselves to other characters. They can’t because they have only known a world where nothing less than blind adoration of Mother is tolerated. Those who speak out are quickly taken away. Those left are told that the offender was re-educated and put into another line of work, but they are never seen again.

 

I found the book to be well-written and the dangling carrot of what lies at the surface drove me to keep reading long after I should have gone to sleep. I just had to know! Of course, I can’t tell you what happened but I found it was an interesting twist and the ending spurred me onto borrowing the second book in KU.

Rating: 5 Stars

Full Disclosure–while I am an author and active on various author forums I do not know R.E. Palmer, have never heard of him/her and have never had any interactions with him/her. This review was not solicited and is my unbiased review.

 

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