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Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews Paradigm by Ceri A. Lowe, a dystopian Young Adult novel.
“This book is proof that you shouldn’t judge things just by what they’re billed as. What could have been a cheap ripoff and cash-in attempt on the popularity of The Hunger Games and Divergent instead is something that shines, and is full of its own originality. The Dystopian Young Adult genre may be overcrowded right now – but Paradigm is something that’s worth checking out.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
What if the end of the world was just the beginning?
Alice Davenport awakens from a fever to find her mother gone and the city she lives in ravaged by storms – with few survivors.
When Alice is finally rescued, she is taken to a huge underground bunker owned by the mysterious Paradigm Industries. As the storms worsen, the hatches close.
87 years later, amidst the ruins of London, the survivors of the Storms have reinvented society. The Model maintains a perfect balance – with inhabitants routinely frozen until they are needed by the Industry.
Fifteen-year-old Carter Warren knows his time has come. Awoken from the catacombs as a contender for the role of Controller General, it is his destiny to succeed – where his parents failed.
But Carter soon discovers that the world has changed, in ways that make him begin to question everything that he believes in. As Carter is forced to fight for those he loves and even for his life, it seems that the key to the future lies in the secrets of the past…
As the quote above suggests, I was initially put off by Paradigm. It looked a bit too much like familiar territory for me and quite frankly it’s annoying to see yet another young adult dystopian fiction title when there’s so much more to the science fiction genre than just post-apocalyptic scenarios in a world screwed up. I for one, would kill to see a fully blown Space Opera young adult book – think the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie for where I’m getting my thoughts from. I’d take space opera as a trend anyday over well, this.
However, as is proven in the case of The Hunger Games, there are some titles worth reading from this subgenre, and Paradigm is a great example, with a plot that isn’t exactly your standard dystopian fare, and for a refreshing change, it’s actually set in London – or at least, in part – and that pretty much gains points from me right there because I will read pretty much any SciFi/Fantasy that has some version of London as its origin, purely because I’m an ex-Londoner myself.
The book isn’t just set in London though. It deals with an interesting scenario where the narrative actually has an 87 year split. The book tells the story of how the world went to hell, and what happened in the future. It’s smart, compelling, and Ceri A. Lowe has found a good way to bridge the gap and keep both stories relevant.
The main characters are interesting and compelling. Alice Davenport is essentially the main character from the present, where we get to see London destroyed by storms that leave little survivors. She’s lost her mother, and it’s interesting to see how Lowe handles Alice’s character in the aftermath and as she develops over the course of the book. However, what makes a refreshing change from the likes of Divergent and The Hunger Games is that there’s actually a shift in narrator – rather than sticking with Alice throughout the whole book, we also meet Carter Warren, who’s a fifteen year old 87 years into the future, who has his own problems.
What also makes this book stand out from the crowd is that we get to see the dystopian setting not only from the perspective of the rebels but we also get the reasoning behind its creation. Why was a strict Government necessary? It’s an interesting addition and the time-split in the narratives helps Lowe illustrate how much things have changed. It’s handled well and that’s not just the only thing that feels fresh about the dystopian setting in this novel.
For a start, there’s virtually no romance. Paradigm doesn’t fall into the trap of other books by overloading on love triangles and making the romance become the main focus of the plot. Like the refreshing changes and additions to the book, it really helps make it stand out. This isn’t just your average cheap cash in novel, folks.It proves there’s still good things to be found in the young adult dystopian genre, even if I’d rather that we moved on from this craze.
There are a few problems however, and for a start, I’d like to talk about the cover. It just feels so same-y and as though we’ve been there, and done that. The addition of the London skyline is good but more change should have been made to make this book standout more. It doesn’t detract from the main experience of the storyline but it probably should have been improved
Carter’s development is unfortunately inconsistent, and happens too quickly and too fast. The change should have happened at a slower pace and he shouldn’t have been influenced as easy as he did, and as a result his story comes across as weaker than Alice’s.
On the whole then, Paradigm is a mostly successful read. It’s compelling, engaging and a refreshing dystopian Young Adult novel that can come recommended despite its flaws.