Avant Nation by CD Verhoff
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction (Dystopian), Action/Adventure
Length: Full (320 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Poppy
CLARA SPINNER’S genetic code, future occupation and date of death have all been mapped out by the government. So when her innermost desires conflict with her rigidly planned life, she must hide them or risk losing everything.
Fresh out of the academy, she loathes her new assignment as a medical technician, but those who complain tend to disappear, so what can she do? Deciding to make the best of the situation, it isn’t long before she becomes one of the top techs at the hospital, specializing in the use of memory retrieval equipment. As her skills gain recognition, she begins to make peace with the system until the day a loved one vanishes without a trace.
Seeking answers, Clara’s search points to the Liberty Union Democracy, a nation at war with her own. Traveling incognito in enemy territory, where one wrong move could be her last, Clara retrieves a memory the government never intended anyone to see. Full of suspense, danger and romance—Avant Nation will take you on a wild ride into he near future.
It’s been a long time since a book made me want to keep reading no matter what else was happening in my life. One that I thought about, even when I wasn’t reading it. Avant Nation was that book.
I’m a big fan of dystopian YA, so picking this up for review was a no brainer. Because I read so many in the genre, I could see similarities between other books (there are groups, similar to the factions in Divergent, for instance and the lack of real emotional bonds and honest familial groups which reminded me of The Giver), but those nods to other books aside, Avant Nation was unique and interesting enough that I’m buying copies for my kids who are even tougher, more discerning readers than I am.
The heroine, Clara, tries very much to fit in but can’t seem to help her rebellious (and frequently adventurous) bent. She’s a Compassionate, so shouldn’t feel that way and fears she’s defective. When she’s assigned to a job that isn’t the one she dreamed of, she still does her best to excel and enjoy it. But even then she struggles … when the algorithm that determines whether or not a person’s life is worth the medical costs (and if not, they’re given no treatment for illness or injury) goes against everything she feels, she eventually makes a decision that changes the course of her life.
I really liked Clara and could sympathize with her feelings and actions. For the most part, she didn’t behave irrationally or stupidly, which was refreshing. She’s a good balance of compassion and just a little kick-butt-ness. She complements the hero, Hawk, decently. Granted, he’s the brawn in their duo (but certainly not stupid), but she holds her own as best she can.
There were unexpected twists and interesting insights from her point of view into what was essentially our current way of life (the people of L.U.D., the enemy of Clara’s nation, basically live as we do today). What I also liked is that the bad guys aren’t all bad, and the good guys aren’t all good. I typically dislike a villain who is utterly unsympathetic, or a protagonist who never makes a wrong choice.
As an aside, the reason my age recommendation was 16+ was due to sexual innuendos and some sexual situations. The Avants have a far looser sense of morality than many, so there are some things referred to and a couple of things that occur that may be a bit too much for younger teens and tweens.
Also, there are a few occasions when things drag a little, the only thing that kept the story from being rated higher, but never to the point I wanted to put it down. In fact, the times when I had to stop reading were little moments of pure torture.
Kudos to the author. I can’t wait for the next book!