Initiate – Laura L. Fox

The book that Oftomes is calling the sci-fi book of the year and after only the first few chapters it’s easy to see why. Riga lives, works, socialises in the Tunnel – a man-made station in the Antarctic housing the last remnants of humanity after we have effectively killed the planet. Nestled deep within the ice, the most the colony can do is listen to the seals that surround their home while staring out of the viewing window into the ice cold sea around them. This is more than enough to make a gripping dystopian story however; Fox delivers this and much more as we are launched into a thrilling chase for answers.

We follow Riga, daughter to senior marine biologist Ariadne who likes nothing more than to skip classes and explore the luging tunnels which once served as a transportation system through the ice. She does this Mynta, her best friend who is more than happy to join Riga. The two of them have only known the Tunnel; second generation they are indoctrinated into their life’s run by the Initiate who are apparently an open organisation looking into their welfare and the welfare of the ecosystem around them.  Their beliefs are shattered when they encounter a long thought dead mammal through the viewing window and begin to question its existence. From this point on they are hounded by questions and conspiracy’s which threaten to drive them apart.

Which they do. After their questions bring them unwanted attention Mynta is threatened and leaves Riga to proceed with their quest alone. Or so they both think. Walk in attractive male who is outgoing, cheeky and funny who, may or may not have a serious crush on Riga – Rhys. Rhys works on the luging tunnels which Riga loves and offers her a ride on one of their repair days. After travelling down an unmarked tunnel they arrive at a warehouse where the Initiate are keeping more than skeletons and relics of the past. *Cue dramatic music*

The idea of an over bearing, all knowing organisation with secrets is not new but, Fox manages to bring the scenario to a new life with questions as to how far the Initiate will go to keep their secrets and what secrets are they actually hiding.

I won’t spoil the surprise in the book as to what they find in that warehouse all I will say is that Fox has written this so well I didn’t see it coming, like I really didn’t. I was so caught up in how we destroyed the Earth and the environment that the characters were in that it knocked me sideways, something not many books are able to do. The not-so-subtle foreshadowing in other books written to almost perfection in this one.

The environmental impact of the book really struck and chord with me and I have a feeling it will with others too. There is a sense of real devotion to the environment and despondency of what happened to the planet. In a time where we can actually see creatures dying off it is a real wake up call to those who are blind or ignorant towards it and the possibilities of what life will look like for us when we are one of the only creatures left.

I will finish up by saying that when this book comes out on November 15th you need to buy it. The issues is raises and deals with are current yet timeless at the same time – familial, environmental, friendship and knowledge. Fox weaves magic on the page as we drawn into her world and forced to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, is this what we want for our planet?

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