Primitive by Rebecca Fernfield.
I am a big fan of this type of Dystopian story, the trouble is after a while you begin to see familiarity in plots. There are the barest whiffs of the Hunger Games and The Handmaids tale in this first book in a series.
It is however, a wholly satisfying beginning and where similarities to other stories occur, the necessity for them in Ms Fernfield’s imagining are clearly delineated. The world has been at war and a group of totalitarian overlords have seized control of everything from resources to religious freedom. The lore is solid and the decline for humanity in the wake of their machinations is highly plausible.
Merrial is a spirited young woman and her family’s tiny almost imperceptible rebellions begin to make her too visible. I liked her very much, she is not passive but she is not your average heroine either. Her goodness is balanced by a violent temper and an impulsivity that gets her into more scrapes than gets her out.
The story is cleverly woven and the feeling of unease and not knowing who to truly trust is palpable, a sure boon in a book where trust above all things is proven to be shattered over and over again and secrets and lies are cracked open like little nutty nuggets.
There is a sweet underlying romance too (thank heavens the notion of a love triangle has been eschewed!) which makes this a solid pick for young adults but the complexity and underlying themes of misogyny and slavery make it just as readable as an adult. I can find little to complain about and look forward eagerly to read the next instalment
Four solid stars.