Aftan Whispers by Phil Williams
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
I really liked this story. It’s a true dystopian novel – a whole lot is packed into a small book! As such, I always find it takes me longer to read dystopian novels because of the amount of detail and hidden information in it. The pace was great though. It wasn’t too slow, nor did you feel like you had to read and reread pages because there was just too much to keep track of.
The story begins with a young man named Tyler, who is an optimist in a beaten down society. Something has happened to the sky because a thick swarm of clouds are always present, night and day. No one seems to know why, but the society has given up on even wondering about it. All the while, Tyler just wants to help people. He wants to see them happy. Family member, or stranger, Tyler believes that everyone has a right to be happy. He smiles all the times, genuinely asks about a stranger’s day, and is willing to help out against a thief or attacker, regardless if it means he is hurt in the process: people should help others.
Cue his co-main character and eventual downfall (you saw it coming, being a dystopian story and all 🙂 ) A young girl, Deni, quite literally pops up and is in need of help. She has the answer to open up the sky (and has seen it herself!), but is being hunted by a pair of slave traders hired to capture her. The bigger secrets are held by those who are responsible for the sky’s disappearance. Is it the Guards of the city who are supposed to protect the population? Or is it the rebels who are sick of living oppressed?
However, Deni doesn’t want Tyler’s help. She grew up as a slave, and doesn’t understand how someone could have that much compassion in their heart. Throughout the book, Deni is conflicted between leaving Tyler behind or allowing him to tag along. Tyler’s persistence is astounding. Why would someone be THAT nice? What’s his motive? They pick up a few characters on the way and, it’s interesting (and encouraging) to see Tyler truly want people to be happy. We do see him putting on a brave face, but he doesn’t really seem to falter.
The characters are well-rounded and their interactions believable. I enjoyed the amount of detail the author took to explain the city and neighborhoods within it. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on some big information, but if I did want to know some of the history, I wouldn’t be opposed to reading the offshoots.
I don’t want to delve into the details at the end, because wrapping up this type of story, you really don’t know how it will end! Think of other stories where you thought you knew the ending, the suspense was building, and then…what? (Examples like Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, The Giver) I will say, I am a dystopian enthusiast. I enjoy the passion (and frustration) I feel when I read stories of these strange societies, where all bets are off throughout the read! That being said, I also enjoy happy endings. I know, I know. This book does a good job of satisfying both and still staying true to the theme of the story. Like I said, it’s a great stand-alone book, but it wouldn’t be far fetched to see another pop up and pick up where this one left off. I highly recommend reading it.
I’d give it 4/5 stars.