Cover Image: The New Dark

The New Dark

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I received an electronic ARC from Bastei Entertainment via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The New Dark is a post-apocalyptic YA set in a world where the internet and power grid has shut down, sending its inhabitants into a simple survival driven setting. Drawn in by the premise, I was eager to see where debut author, Lorraine Thomson, took her characters as they learnt to navigate this new world.

I thought the setting was clever and unique enough to distinguish The New Dark from the overflowing sub-genre of post-apocalyptic fiction. However, the character development fell flat and I just couldn’t fall in love with them.

The main character, Sorrell, lives out her day-to-day life in a small, remote village when mutants raid the village and kidnap her brother. Instead of worrying about her brother’s kidnapping by apparently savage marauders, Sorrell seems more concerned in reuniting with the boy she has a cheesy stereotypical YA crush on.

As the central motivation for the main character, this read way too flimsy for me. Sorrell had the potential to develop into a bad-arse, and genuinely sincere character driven by the love of her brother.  But instead, the reader follows Sorrell as she wanders through the forest and stumbles across a cult-like settlement where she is promised as the new bride to who I first assumed was the sole male in the camp.

With little allusion to the circumstances of this new world, and murky motivations driving the central character, the plot seemed imbalanced and unclear.

While The New Dark wasn’t for me, if you are a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I would give it a shot. This is Lorraine Thomson’s debut novel, and while it did not reach my standards for a post-apocalyptic YA, I do look forward to reading her next book and seeing where this world goes.
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The New Dark is a confusing story. Combining elements from many other great dystopian works, it felt disjointed to me. As is expected in a jack-of-all-trades situation, this story was a master of none, and that made me struggle. The author goes to great lengths to make it clear that she believes in the syllogism that all elephants are gray, but not all gray things are elephants. As I have come to expect from other middle-grade level books, the theme is obvious and there is little nuance in the story. The message of the story is an important one, the idea that prejudice is a plague on society is something that is particularly relevant in our current global climate. Sorrell’s character development was definitely redemptive, and I hope it continues in the next installment of the story.
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In a post-modern society, Sorrel barely escapes after her village is raided by mutants. She finds that young brother Eli and beloved David were captured by the band of mutants and finds herself in a dangerous pursuit to get them back. As she progresses on her journey she learns more about the world outside of her village and the dangers that it holds. Everything she thinks she knows about the “before” could actually be real and she learns that not all mutants are as savage she those that had attacked her village.

The Story-While the book was really easy to read and flowed well enough, there wasn’t really much that made me excited to be reading it. I didn’t really like the alternating points of view between Sorrel and David. I thought it would have been better to just sum up what happened to the survivors as hearsay later – it would have been enough to get the idea of the brutality of the mutants and the overall story of their suffering.

Now while the book itself isn’t explicit, it might be beneficial to point out a slight trigger warning to those who may be affected by reading about a forced or abusive relationship.

The World Building-The setting wasn’t very thoroughly described, but is to be understood that it is in the future where modern day society has fallen, and mankind has regressed to live without technology and it’s advancements. Things such as plumbing and heat are unheard of just as much as a car or telephone. They are all parts of the “before” time. 

There are also mutated creatures, plants & humans that are larger, stronger, and overall more dangerous than they would have been in the “before” time.

The Characters-I found the characters a little flat. However, I did appreciate the fact that Sorrel wasn’t some perfect angel with magnificent skills. She had skills yes, but was overtaken by more power people or made choices that showed her to be someone who could be considered selfish or mean because of her sense of self preservation.

I was really glad that the story wasn’t driven by some instalove between some characters that grinned and eyed each other every few pages as well. The fact that her resolve was fueled by family and comradery was definitely a reason why I stepped up from 2 stars to 3 stars.
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The New Dark novel is the first book of The Dark Times Trilogy by Lorraine Thomson. This was the first book I've read from this author and I wasn't sure what to expect. 

The good:  
I found the book to have a good start. Good world building and interesting characters. The author jumps right in to a world that is destroyed with actions and a great pace. The story line was an interesting and kept me engaged. The book ended in a good place which leads me to believe that the second book will be paced the same way. I hope that for the next book all these holes are answered. 

The bad:
There was very little background as to what led the world to be where it is. There was some world building, but not enough information to comprehend what led to where the are now. There isn't much background information about the people and creatures in the story which leaves me to have to try to piece them together.  The characters were in the coming-of-age stage where they had some growing up to do.

Heroine: Sorrel
Hero: David

Words to describe the heroine: Immature, motivated, loving, tough
Words to describe the hero: Loyal, loving, immature, determined

Hero Rating: 3 stars
Heroine Rating: 3.5 stars
Plot Rating: 3 stars
Storytelling Rating: 3.5 stars
Sexual Tension: 3 stars
Story Ending: 3.5 stars

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
Angst: Low 
Darkness: High
Humor: Low
Romance: Medium
Suspense: Medium
Point of View: A narrator focuses between the different main characters 

Overall Book Construction
Misspells: None
Wording Structure: Good
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When I first read this, I got sucked in because I absolutely love the kind of stories that have that village feel. You know, villages with horses and 'everything is wood' kinda thing. They were simple but alright despite everything that happened. In this case, it's a Dystopian, which really just makes it cooler. The characters were another favorite. I really liked David and Sorrel, but it's funny because even they had a lot of growing up to do. It was both frustrating and entertaining to watch, especially when it effected the other characters. The story had its lags, especially when it would go from their mini adventures to horrendous mind games with creeps you'd rather see dead, but it was overall good!
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❝ The shooting star trailed through the sky before disappearing into nothing. It was supposed to be a good omen, but David couldn’t see what good could come of something so far away when misery was so close at hand.❞

I want to start out by saying thank you to the publisher for approving me for this ARC! All opinions are my own.

The New Dark was a pretty quick and fun read. I would say it has some similar elements to The Hunger Games series (The Hunger Games review, book 1) and the New Bloods series by Michelle Bryan (Awaken review, book 1). Both are really good if you’re interested in checking them out.

Things kick off really fast in the beginning, with David and Sorrel’s village being destroyed within the first chapter. And from there the book alternates chapters between David and Sorrel’s points of view. I think for David’s POV, his story continued along pretty fast with things being very tense as they were dragged along by mutants. But for Sorrel’s POV things felt a little slower. For her, it was being stuck in a new village and looking for a way out. She learned more about the Free and their way of life, but I was just eager to see more action.

I think what I enjoyed the most about the book was the city of Dinawl. It seemed like the center of everything because mutants and humans had to coexist. It wasn’t peaceful, exactly, but it seemed like the city (at least no other was mentioned). While in most instances in the book mutants were treated like trash, in Dinawl the tables were turned with humans being kidnapped from other villages and being sold as slaves to others. It was a corrupt city where you could buy anyone with the right amount of money. It was hard to know who you could trust if anyone at all.

❝ In an act of sorrowful self-preservation, Sorrel internalised her horror and grief. She thought her heart had been so broken in Amat that it could suffer no further damage, but here it was, breaking all over again.❞

I also want to talk about the main characters a bit. I preferred Sorrel over David because she tended to think things through. When she arrived with the Free she took her time studying her surroundings and the people in order to figure out how to get away. She was a planner and I enjoyed that part of her. At the same time, I didn’t like how explosive her anger was towards mutants. She was definitely prejudiced, but seeing her character grow over the book made it worth it.

David, however, was more impulsive. It bothered me a bit that he was always trying to solve things with violence or aggression instead of thinking it through (his plans rarely went his way). He didn’t know how to read people or how to manipulate them the way that Sorrel did.

One thing that I didn’t really care for was the romance aspect of the story. It was stated outright a few times that David and Sorrel were in love, but I didn’t really get that while reading. It would have been better if we had seen the romance between them develop, but that was hard to see considering they were split up for most of the book. It felt a bit like insta-love, but not really because we never saw it. I’m hoping the next book fixes this up a bit.

And then my final thoughts will be on the ending. I liked Sorrel’s part in the ending, and how things ended up between her and the group she met up with. I liked that she didn’t fully embrace the image they wanted for her, but that she was willing to help instill change. The actual final pages of the book bothered me because it didn’t feel like an ending. It felt a bit awkward and the scene itself didn’t really read like it was saying “the end”. I think if the scene with Brig was taken out it would’ve been better.

The New Dark was just released today, November 1st, and it’s really worth checking out, so go, go go!
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I appreciated how the author throws the reader right into the action within the first few pages. It is a fairly fast paced book with no signs of stopping throughout. I'm assuming that the second book will be the same with even more action considering where the characters end up at the end of this book.
I wanted to have more character depth so that I could understand Sorrel better. The only thing that the author explains in the book is that she has an odd birthmark and that she doesn't get along well with her mother. 
I also would have liked to have more background on why the world is the way that it is in the book. The author never really explains it and I felt like I was trying to put together a puzzle with a few of the pieces missing. There were different factions of people in the book and the people in the book don't even know about them so how are readers supposed to?
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The New Dark hooked me with its premise, while I think a lot of the dystopian genre tends to be derivative I was very hopeful.  The New Dark does fall into a few unoriginal plot traps, it’s something I’m very picky about as an adult reader, but a younger audience might not have these same preferences (I didn’t as a youngster!).  Despite this issue the writing stands out, Lorraine Thomson’s writing is very simple and readable, but a lot of her writing/storytelling style comes out in the details which help to build the world around and the characters.

The New Dark starts out by throwing the reader straight into action.  As Sorrel travels across the countryside the strange world begins to take shape.  I loved this fast-paced beginning, but it came to a screaming halt when Sorrel met the Free.  The pace was also bogged down with the addition of David’s narrative.  If there HAD to be another POV, and I don’t think the book needed another, I actually would have preferred to read Mara’s narrative in the hopes to add dimension to her meanest of meanies demeanor.  The one dimensional villains are The New Dark’s greatest problem, in addition to Mara, the Free also fall into this dimensional category.  It is much more interesting to read about characters who are genuinely doing the best they can, but are creating devastating harm anyway.  The Free are trying to preserve their community, but all I really get from them is a creepy old man vibe, there has to be a better tactic for enticing new members.  And if they are so desperate for more lady groupies why aren’t they recruiting in Dinawl or buying thralls?  As I read this I often found myself asking questions like this or wondering why things worked out so conveniently for the characters.

Overall, this one reads like a first novel, but Thomson has potential if she can work out the kinks in characterization and develop a more complicated and original plot.  I’ll likely check the next book’s synopsis to see where it’s all going, hopefully it’ll hook me.
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I genuinely liked the concept and thought some of this novel was new in the sort of way that I hadn’t seen the subjects tackled that way before however the downfall is so many of the questions remain unanswered for the next installment. The pacing and characters are fast and well done and I was pleasantly surprised by a new twist on a slightly tired genre but I was also taken aback by how drawn out some aspects seemed to be.
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The premise is very interesting: it's a post-apocalyptic world, only a couple generations after whatever events happened Before to turn it into the Now. Sorrel is a girl whose entire life has been changed and she sets out to save her little brother and her kind of boyfriend. Along the way her worldview expands; she makes enemies and unexpected friends, and she finds that not all humans are good and not all mutants are bad. I feel like the style of writing makes this a good dystopian/post-apocalyptic book for slightly younger teens, around 13-15.

Unfortunately, this book just didn't really carry it off for me. I felt like such an interesting world was left so unexplored. I was waiting for hints about what had happened to make society what it is Now, but nothing. Plus a huge fuss is made over Sorrel's birthmark and I had no idea WHY, other than it was a symbol from Before? But multiple people seemed to know what it was, except Sorrel. She was just told multiple times she was "special".

I also felt the pace was off... In the first chapter we're barely introduced to characters before destruction strikes and everyone is killed and somehow we're supposed to care about the relationships between characters we don't ever see interact except for the first five pages. Also I just didn't really like reading about the sexual harassment that happens to Sorrel.

Overall, it wasn't for me, but I think slightly younger readers would enjoy it more.
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This book had an excellent premise, but poor world building, unclear writing, and irritating characters kind of killed it for me. I had trouble  getting into the book and picturing what was gong on because nothing was explained very well. There was a decent amount of action, so things were never boring. But I never connected with the characters which made things a bit less exciting and more frustrating for me. Great idea, but not my cup of tea.
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The New Dark is the first book in the Dark Times Trilogy. This is the first book by Lorraine Thomson so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was a well-written dystopian story. This should not be read as a standalone. While this book is written for young adults, older adults will enjoy it too (at least this one did). There is violence.

The book blurb adequately describes the storyline so I'm not going to repeat that all of that info here. The storyline is somewhat predictable but this book is still worth reading. As usual, everything and everyone are not as it seems. I do want to find out more about this characters and will continue to read the rest of the trilogy.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and chose to leave a review for other readers.
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A Ya Sci-Fi Fantasy story.
It was a different story line.a little confusing ,did not explained before or after and the mutants very well.
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I really enjoyed this story. It is different from anything else I have read and I was pulled in right at the beginning. Who skins bats? Ha ha 
I really the the tension between Sorrel and David at the beginning of the story and then his quest to find her again. They are so close to each other, but they never find each other!  I was so frustrated for them! 
I loved the story until the end. I just didn't get it. I even waited a few days to leave my feedback hoping I would "get it" after the story sunk in, but I still didn't understand. What did I miss?  I look forward to the next book so I can gain some incite about what the last chapter meant.
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I requested a copy of this because it sounded really interesting and I will say it has alot of good plot elements and ton of potential. I felt a bit mislead by the summary.  It unfortunately just didn't deliver for me, I felt there were many things that were under developed and I just didn't engage with the writing style. The writing was a bit disjointed for my taste and I often felt like I missed something. I found myself going back to see if I skipped a page or missed a paragraph where something happened only to find that the information was simply not there and you had to infer what happened. Fortunately there normally enough context clues to figure out what was going on, sometimes I was just left confused.

I like dystopian settings, and this has an interesting twist where people are living in city environments and in the wilderness fending for themselves but there are mutants. I would have loved if the mutant aspect was explained, the author mentions viable and unviable children but never really explains what that means and how mutants came to be. Typically in dystopian or post-apocalyptic books, there is some long forgotten event that caused society to be in whatever situation they are in, but the main character Sorrel often speaks of her grandmother who lived in the Before time and taught her about things Before. It would have been nice to get an explanation about what occurred the transition from the Before to the After only recently happened and there are people living in the present time that actually know what happened.

Onto the story, the story begins in the town of Amat, a wilderness community where the people live off the land and get on pretty well. Our main character Sorrel is a presented as a brooding teen, when her village is attacked by mutants. The town is destroyed, most everyone is killed, and Sorrel just barely escapes. Sorrel's little brother is taken by one of the mutants and she is determined to go after them and avenge those she's lost. She also hopes to find some of her townsfolk alive, especially David, the boy she likes.  David and Sorrel's relationship is a plot point that was misleading in the summary.  They are described as boyfriend and girlfriend.  I have to disagree.  While they do clearly like each other, they aren't actually in a relationship.  They say a few words to each other in the beginning of the book, but then they spend the rest of the book trying to get back to each other.  Everyone is trying to keep them apart, but they were never actually together.  But I digress...

Sorrel ends up in this creepy cult town with the people called the Free. They are led by Martin, who made my skin crawl, I think he was supposed to have that effect. The Free believe that everything Martin says is law and that he can do no wrong.  It is pretty creepy.   I give Thomson credit for the icky feeling I got when I read this part of the story since it definitely delivered on the creep factor.    David along with everyone else the mutants left alive are sold into slavery by the mutants, while Sorrel's brother Eli is being well cared for by his new mutant protector. Sorrel eventually escapes Martin and the Free with the help of, Einstein, a mutant the Free were keeping captive and torturing. Sorrel and Einstein end up in the town of Dinawl in an attempt to find David and Eli. As you can imagine, she finds nothing but trouble and she also finds a resistance movement. Still fueled to find those she loves, she puts her trust in the resistance movement and begins to fight for the future.  Sorrel has a birthmark and it resembles something from the Before so she decides to something akin to Katniss and the Mockingjay from the Hunger Games.  The face of the revolution and the change that needs to happen to overthrow the corruption in society.  That part was fine but nothing we haven't seen before.  I found Sorrel to be irritating and immature, and I just don't see her being a revolutionary that saves the world as she is.  She has alot of growing up to do yet.
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Not all mutants are bad! Society has taken a step backwards and has reverted to destroying mutants as soon as they can but some survive.  Sorrel has to learn to trust one when her village is destroyed and her love interest and little brother are taken. Things aren't always what they seem to be in The New Dark.
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Interesting, Descriptive and mildly emotional.

The New Dark is about the Village of Amat and Sorrel. Sorrel runs away from her village when it is attacked by the mutants. When she comes back she finds almost everyone lying dead on the ground. But her brother Eli and her love interest David are missing. That's when she sets a journey to find them and rescue them. Will she find them or are they dead? 

The journey is definitely not an easy one for Sorrel. She faces enemies both as nature and as humans. David and Eli, on the other hand, are taken as prisoners by the mutants and they have hardships of their own.
The Mutants have been shown in two different light. One is their harsh, violent nature and the other as the sad, pathetic breed who are tortured by humans for fun. 

The plot is fast-paced and the writing is fairly simple. The author takes time to describe the world she has created. A sci-fi world which is so much different from the one we live in or can possibly imagine. The plot tends to get boring at times, but it gets better again. This keeps happening throughout the plot. 
It took me really long to finish this book. Maybe because there's a vivid description of almost everything and random events keep happening
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Unfortunately I got 18% into this book before I had to stop. It reads more like a draft than a complete novel. It introduced characters out then we don’t really see them again. It skips through days without giving the reader descriptions as to how these days are going. The MC jumps into action but it doesn’t make much sense. To book comes off rushed into the plot and trying to give slight backs story along the way but I think a few more drafts and editing could have taken this idea further and more creative renaming the fantasy and the world with more unique names.
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some typical dystopian features but interesting enough to keep my attention
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