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.Necessary Sacrifices by Zoe Cannon
Series: Internal Defense #2
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A year and a half ago, Becca Dalcourt joined the resistance. Three months ago, she started working undercover inside Internal Defense. A year from now, she’ll probably be dead. She knows the odds. She’s seen how the life of a double agent ends.
All she wants is a chance to do something with what little time she has left. Something big. Something meaningful. But the resistance doesn’t trust her, and her job transcribing torture sessions hasn’t given her anything but the names of dissidents whose lives, according to her resistance contact, aren’t worth saving.
So when she discovers a secret government program designed to brainwash dissidents into loyal citizens, she resolves to shut it down, no matter the cost. Even if her plan puts everyone she loves in danger. Even if the most experienced resistance fighters say it can’t be done. Even if it means betraying the only person who sees past the mask she wears every day.
Even if she has to do it alone.
The sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter, which has been praised for its dark realism, Necessary Sacrifices asks how you fight an enemy that can't be defeated... and what sacrifices are worth making along the way.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book. I knew it would have something to do with Becca and the resistance. Well, it was quite the ride and was full of non-stop action. There wasn’t a whole lot of lulls in the book. It follows the continuing story of Becca and her fight against the regime, her relationship with her mother and also with her former friend Heather, and her trying to settle into a double-life working for Processing. I thought I knew where the book was going but it ended up taking a lot of turns here and there and pleasantly surprised me. Becca really develops and grows a tremendous amount in this novel, as well as some of the other characters (like Heather). I don’t want to give too much away but suffice to say Becca and a few others are constantly being barraged with tough moral choices and impossible situations. There is a bit of romance as well. The book wraps up fairly nicely but doesn’t necessarily resolve the problems in the world so it could go either way as to whether a third book is written. But if you liked the first book, then you’ll like this one as well as it is very similar, only turned up in intensity.
Interview With Author Zoe Cannon
The Torturer’s Daughter series presents so many interesting moral dilemmas and complicated relationships. It really makes one think about what they would do in a similar situation. What kind of themes were you aiming for with the books?
In the first book, the theme is the idea of dehumanization, and the fact that everyone is human, with all the flaws and complexity that entails, even if they’re your enemies. The themes of the second book are different – the main question underlying that one is, “What’s the point of fighting an enemy you can’t defeat?” The third book, which I’m working on now, will come back to the idea of dehumanization, but from a slightly different angle.
In Necessary Sacrifices, Becca finally meets the resistance, but it may not be exactly match people’s preconceived notions of what a resistance would be. Was that a choice you made before you wrote the book?
I knew from the start that these books wouldn’t follow the usual pattern for YA dystopia, where the main character leads the resistance to victory against the dystopian government. I wanted this series to be about living under a totalitarian government, and the kinds of heroism that develop in that situation, rather than about the process of overthrowing the regime. So I knew the resistance wasn’t going to be powerful enough to bring down the government, and I knew that wasn’t going to be why they fought. Why they fight even though they can’t win is the question Becca ultimately has to answer in Necessary Sacrifices.
Where did you get the idea for Torturer’s Daughter?
The idea first came from a writing exercise I did, where I ended up creating a character who worked as a torturer for a dystopian regime and had executed her daughter’s best friend’s parents. I started writing more snippets with different characters, all focused around that central event, and eventually I decided I liked the concept enough to turn it into a novel.
When you wrote the story, did you find the plot taking directions you didn’t plan on? Or characters going in different directions as they grow?
With the exception of a few minor changes, for the most part the final versions of The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary Sacrifices were the same as the stories I had originally envisioned. But the story did diverge in one important way, in that I never intended to write a sequel to the first book. In my mind, Becca’s story was done. But then, after I had finished the first book, I had a vision of an older Becca working inside Internal Defense, and I knew it was a story I had to write.
How many future books do you think will be in this series and how is the next book going?
The next book will be the last book about Becca, but there will be more books in the Internal Defense series featuring new characters and different aspects of the world. Right now I have ideas for at least two more books, plus two novellas (including one that will be published this September in a dystopian anthology called Darkest Worlds), with plenty of room for more.
What kind of books and authors do you like to read?
I’ll read pretty much anything if the plot sounds interesting. But I tend to read very heavily in the young adult category. What I like about YA is that there tends to be a lot more room to blur genre lines – authors have more freedom to experiment instead of sticking rigidly to their genre, which makes for more interesting stories. But I also read a lot of adult fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy.
When did you first think about writing and how did you go about it?
I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I know a lot of writers have one specific moment when they decided they were going to write; I never had that. I always had the knowledge, in the back of my mind, that this was what I was going to do with my life. I suppose I went about it the way any young writer does – I wrote lots of bad stuff, until finally I started writing good stuff instead.
How do you balance writing with family and career?
I write full-time, which makes things easier. I’m also an extreme night owl, while my husband is an extreme early bird, so after he goes to bed I have… oh, about six more hours before I’m ready for sleep. So I usually write during the day while my husband is at work, have a leisurely dinner together with plenty of time for chatting after, and then work late into the night. It can be difficult when a story idea demands to be worked on right that minute, but my husband is a writer too, so he understands how it works.
You recently wrote a story for an anthology. Can you tell us about it?
I do have a short story in an anthology – the anthology is called The Adventure of Creation, and all the stories are written by students of writing teacher Holly Lisle. My story is a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy (not related to the Internal Defense series). [Amazon Link]
I also have an Internal Defense story that will be part of a dystopian anthology called Darkest Worlds; the anthology is going to be published on September 13th of this year. It’s on Goodreads: [Goodreads]