Up the Tower by JP Lantern
Publisher: Brainstorm Publishing
Genre: Futuristic/Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA
Length: Full (247 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon
In the dystopian slum of Junktown, death is commonplace, trust is a liability, and friendship is a curse. But disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these individuals couldn’t be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go…UP THE TOWER.
Up the Tower offers us the events following a disaster in the future City of St. Louis. There is that which is familiar in any American city – the ordinary lives, the everyday events. Then there are the futuristic elements, like the mega-corp of the police department, and cultural ones, as well. Then, there is the sudden life-altering change, showing us the impact of the disaster on individuals.
The opening sets the stage, from a distant, perhaps arms-length perspective. I felt interested, yet uninvolved. Abruptly–and this author can handle “abruptly”–we plunge into the ‘ordinary’ lives of these future people.
The quick, frank yet conversational style can occasionally become quite confrontational and tense. Yet, some things are reported matter-of-factly; we accept the strict classes of people almost without second thought. You’re a shareholder–in luck! Or no–a gangster, too bad. It’s the luck of draw, or what you can afford to pay for in this not-quite-familiar future world.
We meet ‘Ore’ first – horrible and horrifying as she is, you do kind of feel for her. She’s tough, but maybe she is what her world made her? Even Victor (I mean, he’s an assassin!) manages not to be a simple, black-and-white character. You can understand his effort to avoid thinking of the dead people; we want to believe some part of him cares. All Mr. Lantern’s characters are distinct beings; more than distinct, they are unique and …well… incredibly individual.
There is even a romance mixed in, along with a sense of character’s insecurity- perhaps a sample of the style is the best way to share:
“Today was Gary’s day. He could feel it in his bones. Somehow, someway, he’d run into Ana. He dressed with vigor. Form-fitting khakis. A button-down shirt. His hair slicked back into a neato pompadour. Leather jacket hanging loosely around it all, hiding the outline of pudge that had been steadily building ever since he finished high school. He looked killer. He looked hip. He was neato, daddy-o. That was how they said it, right?”
Strange world though it seems, anyone can identify with Gary’s hope, as well as his efforts to fit in.
Events in Up the Tower are important, yet are given less attention. It is the results that are important. Even the disaster at the start is merely reported, not so much lived and felt. Junktown, within St. Louis, is central, but never well described.
The style is far from my favorite, but Author JP Lantern manipulates readers emotions like a magician. In fact, but for a few moments of confusion here and there, I might well have assigned it five stars. Although listed for young adult readers, anyone of any age who likes the genre should enjoy Up the Tower.