Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Review: The Stranded by Sarah Daniels

Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: January 3, 2023
Pages: 450

The Hunger Games meets Station Eleven in a gripping near-future dystopian: love triangles, betrayals and fights for freedom in a world turned upside-down...

Welcome to the Arcadia.

Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States—a leftover piece of a fractured USA.

For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.

Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.

When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever...

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

I'm not sure exactly what drew me to this book, but I'm guessing it was the word "dystopian" in the description. This book felt more realistic than most dystopian novels I've read though. In most of them, society drastically changes and there are only whispers of resemblance to our society now. It wasn't a great leap for me to imagine a completely fractured United States with a portion of it absolutely refusing to take in refugees. And the tactics they use to keep them separate and controlled harken back to a past notable regime from Europe. It's definitely a different world, but not that different. 

This story jumped around between a few character's perspectives, giving us a pretty clear view of the whole story. That made some aspects of the story more frustrating for me because I knew more than the character whose head I was in at the time. While I enjoy knowing more than the characters, it's less satisfying when I've been spoon fed the info from someone else in the book. 

I feel it's worth noting that the author doesn't pull many punches with the characters, and life on the ships is brutal. The main characters live fairly privileged lives compared to most on the ship, but we get to see the dark underbelly of things as well. 

Even with getting to see upcoming plans from a variety of sources, I was still anxious to see how things would play out in the end. I'd say the author set things up really well for at least one sequel, but this part of the story still felt complete. 

Overall I give this book 4.1 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Check out my discussion questions here. The questions do contain spoilers. 

Sarah Daniels is a former bookseller who studied archaeology and now lives in rural Lincolnshire, UK. Her work has been published in various online magazines and has been nominated for Best British and Irish Flash Fiction.

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