Darkest Worlds: A Dystopian Anthology Review

November 24, 2013 Reviews 2 ★★★★½

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Darkest Worlds: A Dystopian Anthology ReviewDarkest Worlds by A.G. Henley, Kate Avery Ellison, Katie French, Megan Thomason, S.K. Falls, Zoe Cannon
on 9/13/2013
Genres: Dystopia
Pages: 237
Format: eBook
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four-half-stars

An anthology that explores what humans are made of when society falls to its knees. Darkest Worlds includes six original novellas by award-winning authors and best sellers of Young Adult and New Adult Dystopia.

All proceeds go to Girls Write Now, a charity that promotes literacy of inner-city girls.

Nessa: A Breeders Story by Katie French, author of The Breeders: Eighteen-year-old Nessa knows what it's like to be an endangered species. Growing up in a dying world where nine out of ten babies are born male, she survives by trusting no one. When Marlin, the nineteen-year-old gunslinger, kills the man who has been keeping her enslaved, Nessa decides he might be her meal ticket. What she doesn't realize is love is still possible, even in their decimated world.

MOON by S.K. Falls, author of World of Shell and Bone: Loyalty. Obedience. Patriotism. Moon Stewart has no doubt that the New Amanian way of life is the right way. The only way. But was there ever a time when she felt differently? In this companion novella to the dystopian bestseller World of Shell and Bone, the secrets of Moon's past are revealed, giving readers a glimpse into the mind of their favorite antagonist.

The First Unforgivable Thing by Zoe Cannon, author of The Torturer's Daughter: When a dissident working undercover as an interrogator is ordered to torture a confession from the only girl he's ever loved, he chooses to defy both the totalitarian regime and the resistance by helping her escape--but she has an agenda of her own...

The Keeper by A.G. Henley, author of The Scourge, a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award: Peree knows his duty as the new Keeper of the Water Bearer, Fennel, is to make sure his people get every drop of their share of the water she collects when the flesh-eating Scourge roam the forest. He will motivate her, distract her, do anything he can to keep her working. He knows his duty is to his people and his people alone. What he doesn't know is that he's falling in love with her.

Survival Lessons by Kate Avery Ellison, author of Frost: A young Farther prisoner named Eva escapes into the monster-filled wilderness of the Frost with a band of fellow inmates, all of whom are harboring secrets...but little do they know that Eva has secrets of her own. Set in the world of The Frost Chronicles.

clean slate complex by Megan Thomason, author of the daynight series: Homeless Alexa Knight agrees to help the do-gooder non-profit The Second Chance Institute in return for medical care for her sick mother. The SCI is wooing the poor and downtrodden into their Clean Slate Complexes--where "everything is provided" from jobs to food, shelter, clothing, and education. Unfortunately, as with all things that sound too good to be true, there's a catch...

This is an anthology from various dystopia series. Proceeds from the book go to Girls Write Now, a charity that promotes literacy of inner-city girls. Since the book is a collection of different stories from different authors, I’m going to review each separately.

Nessa: A Breeders Story by Katie French, author of The Breeders

The world has a severe shortage of women. The government will go to any costs to repopulate and thus the “Breeders” are doctors and scientists who will go to any length to try to fix the problem. Nessa is rare in that she is a free woman. She meets a mysterious man, and soon they have a baby. Now they are a major target for the Breeders and must run for their lives before they are captured. While it was dystopian, it had a very wild-west feeling to it with stagecoaches, etc. I would have liked to see a bit more backstory here so I knew more about the world and what happened. I am certainly interesting in learning more about what happens to Nessa in the future.

MOON by S.K. Falls, author of World of Shell and Bone: Loyalty

I haven’t read any other books in this series. It was really an interesting take on a girl growing up in a society where everyone is suspected of being a dissident and people are executed for even the smallest suspicion. She must choose loyalty between her sister and her mother, and her life. It was a really bleak existence and I could really feel her despair and numbness at being in the situation. I’m looking forward to exploring more of this series later on. If reminds me a lot of the world of the next story (The Torturer’s Daughter) where everyone is on edge because the government will take anyone on suspicious of disloyalty.

The First Unforgivable Thing by Zoe Cannon, author of The Torturer’s Daughter

Having read both books in the series, I found this story very interesting. It follows a guy (working undercover for the resistance) who is being trained to be an interrogator…only the first person who has to interrogate is his former love. This was very intriguing… we don’t learn that much about the regime or Raleigh, but we get a little insight into how the resistance works and it is a good standalone story about two kindred spirits and what they do when put in an impossible position by the dystopian regime. Definitely worth a read if you liked the other two books.

The Keeper by A.G. Henley, author of The Scourge

This is a short story about two peoples…one who lives in caves and another who live in the trees. A third group…some kind of monsterous creatures called the Scourge lurk in the forest and try to kill everyone. Only a sightless water fetcher can get water for both peoples without being attacked. The Keeper is from the trees and charged with protecting the water fetcher.

I found the world building to be great and the story very intriguing. This is a dystopia as it is set after the fall of our civilization, but there is a lot of fantasy elements here too and mystery…like why the water fetcher is protected from the scourage. There is a bit of a connection between the keeper and the water fetcher, and no doubt a romance is brewing…which I am interesting in seeing in future stories.

The only negative I would mention (and it isn’t much of one) is I have no idea what the Scourge people are….how they became what they are, how they seem to have unlimited numbers, why their primary goal seems to be attacking people, etc. I’m sure a lot of that is covered in the other books, but I haven’t read them yet.

The mysteries and questions from this book only make me more interested in reading the other books, which I am looking forward to doing. This is one of two books in this anthology that I immediately want to explore further.

Survival Lessons by Kate Avery Ellison, author of Frost

This was a really intriguing and engrossing story. We start off with Eva, a girl was a mysterious past. She and other prisoners are removed from their jail cells and sent to certain death working as slaves in fields, but they escape in middle of the night into a forest. There are two really developed characters here, a bit of romance that can never be, some mysterious creatues, an evil government, ancient relics and a quest for a powerful device. It has a bit of dystopia, a bit of fantasy, and a lot of intriguing questions. Eva seems a bit weak in the beginning, but we soon learn there is much more to her than meets the eye. This one made me immediately want to go out and read the full book (Frost).

clean slate complex by Megan Thomason, author of Daynight

Clean Slate Complex is a short story set after the events in Daynight. Here we follow Alexa, a homeless girl who is “saved” by the Second Chance Institute. While they have provided for her basic needs, she learns that the cost to her and everyone else is extremely great. She befriends the son of the couple who runs the place and soon learns the horrifying truth of those who are “transferred out” of the institute.

I found the character of Alexa to be compelling. She reminds me a lot of Kira from Daynight… fierce, challenging, questioning everything. There is a little bit of romance (and maybe some love triangle), as well. The novella does a good job introducing Second Chance Institute while still leaving Thera to be a bit of a mystery (in case you didn’t read Daynight).

Overall it is a fairly short story and I don’t see much to dislike about it. It is a good followup to Daynight and one should really read this before going into book 2, Arbitrate. I enjoyed reading this a lot and did it just a day. I think all Daynight readers should give this a read.

Bottom Line

This anthology is an amazing collection of dystopias from some great authors. All of the stories include difficult decisions, strong female characters, and some really thought-provoking themes. If you have read any of these series or authors, it’s just a given to read a short story set in those worlds, but it is a major bonus to get such great works here. It has introduced me to several great authors and series which I plan to explore further. And this is great that proceeds go to help literacy.

four-half-stars

About A.G. Henley

A.G. Henley is the author of the BRILLIANT DARKNESS series. The first novel in the series, THE SCOURGE, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award.

A.G. is also a clinical psychologist, which means people either tell her their life stories on airplanes, or avoid her at parties when they’ve had too much to drink. Neither of which she minds. When she’s not writing fiction or shrinking heads, she can be found herding her children and their scruffy dog, Guapo, to various activities while trying to remember whatever she’s inevitably forgotten to tell her husband. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

About Kate Avery Ellison

I’ve been making up stories since I was five years old, and now I’m thrilled to be able to do it as a full-time job. I have an obsession with dark fantasy, dystopian futures, and Pride and Prejudice-style love stories full of witty banter and sizzling, unspoken feelings. When I’m not writing, I’m creating digital art, reading funny blogs, or watching my favorite shows (which include TVD and BSG). I live with my geeky husband and our two bad cats in Atlanta, GA.

About Katie French

Katie French imagined herself an author when her poem caught the eye of her second grade teacher. In middle school she spent her free time locked in her room, writing her first young adult novel. Though her social life suffered, her love for literature thrived. She studied English at Eastern Michigan University, where she veered from writing and earned an education degree. She spent nine years teaching high school English. Currently she is a school counselor, doing a job that is both one of the hardest things she’s ever done and the most rewarding. In her free time she writes, reads great books and takes care of her two beautiful and crazy children. She is a contributor and co-creator of Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to erasing the boundaries between traditional and non-traditional publishing. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. You can find her at www.katiefrenchbooks.com, at www.undergroundbookreviews.com or on Facebook.

About Megan Thomason

Bestselling, award-winning author Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn’t typing away on her laptop, she’s reading books on her phone–over 600 in the last year–or attending to the needs of her family. Megan’s fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel & fast cars and hates paperwork & being an insomniac.

About S.K. Falls

A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, S.K. Falls enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.

Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know she has one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures she never forgets that her hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.

About Zoe Cannon

Zoe Cannon writes about the things that fascinate her: outsiders, societies no sane person would want to live in, questions with no easy answers, and the inner workings of the mind. If she couldn’t be a writer, she would probably be a psychologist, a penniless philosopher, or a hermit in a cave somewhere. While she’ll read anything that isn’t nailed down, she considers herself a YA reader and writer at heart. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and a giant teddy bear of a dog, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.

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