Verdict: Author Michael J. Fleming creates an unforgettable cast in this dystopian story of teens in a world that is, by turns, excessively courteous and violent. Like the young heroine who flies across its cover, ADA: SOLSTICE VOLITION soars.
Michael J. Fleming creates an unforgettable cast in this dystopian story of teens in a world that is, by turns, excessively courteous and violent. It’s a place where girls must curtsy, but prom occurs during the day, because of nighttime dangers on city streets. And it’s a time when intrusive government control breeds anarchy.
Two cheerful girls take life for a spin despite living in a culture that sneers at physical challenges and diversity. Fifteen-year-old Ada Anand has no legs and only one arm. Her super-smart best friend Aisling Connors (Ashy) is derided for being a tall redhead. What her detractors don’t know is that Ashy true vulnerability is radiation illness.
Ada and Ashy immigrated to Pacifica, a walled city. It is only the brilliance of Ada’s scientist parents that allows her to live there. The city itself is vulnerable. It’s shielded — but only during the day — by a glass dome deflecting the acid rain causing “radrot” disease. One of their few friends is Zander Martinez whose chubbiness and techno-nerdiness conceal unimagined physical powers. Then there’s the gentlemanly mystery teen Keisuke, who mesmerizes the entire student body by seeming to float on his “glistening red levbike.” In contrast, another memorable male character is the hulking, scar-faced Raine, an adult vigilante who prowls Pacifica’s night streets.
Fleming weaves typical teen problems into the story, but gives some a sinister twist. Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange comes to mind when the ubiquitous mean girls of teen fiction fling Ada out of her wheelchair and try to drown her in a huge fountain of alcoholic punch. Ada’s sense of humor tempers the novel’s darkness when she quips that raspberry punch would have been tastier. Gadgetry also plays a role in the novel, especially the little communication globes called “com coms” that hover over each teen. Like digital nannies, the com coms transmit messages, correct behavior and warn of impending dangers.
Characters, plotting, pacing and setting all shine in ADA – SOLSTICE VOLITION. But if a com com had hovered over Fleming’s shoulder during final reading of the manuscript, it might have suggested improving the proofreading.
~Alicia Rudnicki for IndieReader