Genre: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic/Adventure/Young Adult
“It is the year 2058. The Sino-American War has decimated several generations of men, and the Sterility Epidemic has made 90% of the surviving males sterile.
Electricity does not function in five western states. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana are territories once again. Collectively, they are known as the Juniper. It is the most dangerous place on Earth.
On a desperate post-apocalyptic cattle drive to save their family ranch, Cavatica Weller and her two gun slinging sisters stumble across a rare boy. Sharlotte wants to send him away, Wren wants to sell him… and Cavatica falls in love with him.
Little do they know that an inhuman army is searching for the boy and will stop at nothing to find him.”
“Aaron Michael Ritchey was born with Colorado thunderstorms in his soul. He's sought shelter as a world traveler, an endurance athlete, a story addict, and even gave serious thought to becoming a Roman Catholic priest. After too brief a time in Paris, he moved back to the American West and lives semi-comfortably with three forces of nature: a little, blonde hurricane, an artistic tornado, and a beautiful, beautiful blizzard.”
Mr. Ritchey’s Long Live the Suicide King was a nominee in BigAl’s Books and Pals 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards under the YA category. For more information about Aaron Michael Ritchey please visit his website.
I generally don’t read dystopian stories, but the premise of this one grabbed my attention. The characters are all well-developed, quite unique, and interesting. This is going to be an epic coming-of-age saga contrasting two disparate worlds existing side by side. Aaron Michael Ritchey has done an outstanding job setting up his world and has kept it as realistic as fantasy can get while still pushing the limits of reality with the elements he employed.
The story is told through Cavatica Weller’s eyes. She is the youngest of three living sisters who has been pulled out of school, The Sally Browne Burke Academy for the Moral and Literate in Cleveland, Ohio, to assist in a cattle drive to save the family ranch in the Juniper. Each sister has her own strengths. Cavatica is strong-willed, opinionated, naïve, and ruled by her emotions. A persevering theme throughout the story is the New Morality Movement. There were several times I wanted to slap the s**t out of Cavatica. Her views are so extremely colored by this New Morality that she can’t see straight. I found it frustrating and kept having to remind myself of her young age. I hope she will eventually find a balance that will serve her better in coming sequels. The mysterious young man they rescue from a raid adds a complicated element to the storyline, especially when the oldest and youngest sisters set their sights on him.
The character-driven plot is fast-moving with several surprising twists thrown into the mix, which continually causes adaptions to be made to the Weller sisters plans. I have found myself invested in this family’s quest to get their cattle to a fair market with their family, friends, and employees intact. The surprise at the end left my jaw on the floor. Mr. Ritchey has woven a tangled web and I am not sure what to expect next. I do know that I will be anxiously awaiting the next addition of this story.
Dandelion Iron is the first book in The Juniper Wars series.
I read and reviewed from an advanced readers copy, so can’t really comment on editing.
Rating: ***** Five stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Print Length: 278 pages