Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: "Shesus" by Hilary Shepard

I am a sucker for dystopian adventures.  I don't know why, but there is something romantic about the treacherous journey to find an impossible slice of utopia. 

"Shesus", from the first glimpse, seemed to be exactly what I love in a dystopian story.  However, I soon found that I was wrong, in a good way.  What I found was that "Shesus" takes us on a different sort of Journey.  In fact, what we have is actually a utopian world surrounded by dystopia. Too often we are shown the devastation or government control, without seeing the beauty until the end.  That is where "Shesus" is different.

How can that be, you ask?

Simply put, the earth is in a constant state of repair.  It is the humans that are unintentionally forcing dystopia upon the Mother Earth.   In "Shesus" we are introduced to the last remnants of natural earth, within the Protected Forrest.  Those that still believe in the planet's healing powers, and strive to protect her from evil corporations that seek to control her embrace, are a limited force among those that have surrendered to living within the protected malls of the technological world. In this Young Adult novel, we are introduced to TheRose and Bugbee, two young intellectuals with a mission to save their protected land and share their utopia with the world.

"TheRose, 15, lives in isolation in the last protected forest of The Americas with her mother Mooma and 9 year old sister, Bugbee. When their mom vanishes, the girls are forced to venture into a world poisoned by ‘The Big Sick.’ Following the secret map encoded in Mooma’s beaded necklace, TheRose and Bugbee must navigate the strange mall dwellings that the last vestiges of mankind are forced to live in order to survive—intent on solving the mystery of their mother’s disappearance. In the process, they discover the real story behind their father’s death, who the legendary enigmatic character Shesus really is and why they are all being relentlessly pursued by the sinister and all—powerful Govercorp, as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance."

"Shesus" is filled with multi-layered  characters, each unique in their own ways.  Set in the year 2315, the futuristic tale is filled with so much nostalgia, that even those with a dislike for futuristic tales will enjoy the story within the pages.  Characters such as Janisjoplin (JJ), Johnyseed, Johnlennon, Darylhannah, and many more, reflect the celebrities after which they are named in glimpsing familiarity, yet bring forth their own uniqueness to draw you into their story.

Of all the characters, my absolute favorite has to be Seven.  A genetically engineered baby, his poise and intellect, coupled with his innocent banter, inserts a slice of comedic relief, yet a strong sense of empathy for the journey he shares with Bugbee and TheRose. 

While the obvious undertone of the book is one of Earthly preservation and caution for what might occur if we do not treat the planet with more respect, it is also a tale of togetherness, family, and the importance of new friends.  Hilary Shepard has done what many writers can only dream of.  She has formed her reoccurring dreams into a masterpiece, dare I say an instant classic, that is sure to resonate for generations to come. This is a tale that I, as a 36 year old man, enjoy immensely as it tugged at my heart at times, and reminded me of the imaginary journeys I took as a young child.  This is a tale that my youngest daughter, twelve years of age, has become exited to begin reading as I shared with her the beautiful characters within.  This is a tale that I will proudly display on my bookshelf alongside other inspiring authors such as Harper Lee, William Golding, Clive Barker, Charles Day, Peter Giglio, Shannon Michaels, and many more.

This is a book that I highly recommend to any lover of fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure.  Unlike other popular books of similar themes, such as "the Hunger Games" and "the Host", "Shesus" gives us an astounding glimpse at the positive side of a dystopian world, allowing us to glimpse the beauty before the distress and how the journey unfolds.

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