Verdict: The plot fairly crackles with activity, leading towards an intriguing conclusion that may perplex or fascinate the reader, according to taste. The writing style is well-edited and appropriate to the main character, drawing the reader into Varik's perspective and thoughts.
In the year 2089, global warming has split the world into three sections – the Arctic-area Ocean Dominion, the Land Dominion just to the south, and the dangerous, only somewhat habitable Hotzone, where going outside without a special suit leaves you burned beyond recognition.
The Hotzone is separated from the Land Dominion by a high, well-guarded wall to keep refugees out, and its inhabitants are kept half-starved and exploited by the residents of the other two dominions. Varik Teitur is a resident of the Ocean Dominion, and, since the death of his scientist father five weeks ago, the owner of a seaweed and fish farm, one of a few on which the world’s food supply depends. He has little sympathy for the inhabitants of the Hotzone, since he blames Hotzone terrorists for the murder of his mother.But when he finds Marisa Byron, the disinherited daughter of a wealthy tycoon, stealing his father’s precious seed stocks, and discovers that a blight has infected the crucial agar crop that stands between the human race and starvation, he is forced to go to the Hotzone with her in order to track down his father’s greatest creation, the Fireseed, humanity’s only hope. Can he and Marisa dodge murderous terrorists, insane cultists, and the terrible solar radiation in order to save the world? Will Varik’s prejudices against the Hotzone refugees prove true, or will he have to rethink everything his father taught him? And is the Fireseed still alive at all?
Fireseed One’s setting is a chilling post-apocalyptic world, with political echoes of Cold War-divided Berlin, in which those unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of the border wall are trapped in a hellhole of a world while the lucky elite live reasonably privileged and safe lives. The author adds subtle touches here and there which give substance and detail to her world without overwhelming her plot with backstory. Varik and Marisa are believable and likable young adults, forced to question everything they’ve been taught, and pushed into early maturity by the dire state of their world. Minor characters are vividly drawn with quirks and personalities of their own, adding color and life to the tale. It is particularly interesting to note the contrast the author subtly but distinctly shows between Varik’s idolized-but-imperfect father, and Marisa’s, demonized but not wholly evil.
The plot fairly crackles with activity, leading towards an intriguing conclusion that may perplex or fascinate the reader, according to taste. The writing style is well-edited and appropriate to the main character, drawing the reader into Varik’s perspective and thoughts.
The romance between Marisa and Varik, however, feels a bit forced at first, though it grows more real as the book goes on. Also, while the prejudice that Varik and his late father both nursed against the Hotzone refugees is reasonably supported by the death of Varik’s mother, it seems unreasonably petty and irrational for an educated scientist, in particular, to bear a grudge against an entire realm of human beings for the actions of one individual. The illustrations are hand-drawn and somewhat amateurish in feel, though well-executed. These are minor issues, however, and do not detract from an otherwise well-written story.
If you enjoy post-apocalyptic science fiction, set in a well-developed fictional world full of color and personality, you will likely find this book an entertaining read.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader