If you think about rolling together Lord of the Flies, The Giver, and Ender’s Game into one book, you’ll sorta come close to what The New Dawn is. And you’re still in for a sideways twist.
I love a good eff’d up Dystopian novel, and this one does not disappoint.
The author does a good job of creating that eerily safe environment where in the beginning things are bit too structured, but it’s great! The society is thriving, everyone seems content, there’s no violence, it’s all good, right? Except that your spider sense keeps tingling and you can’t figure out why. All the while, Palmer really allows you to connect with the main character, Noah. He’s smart, a team-player and has an innocent curiosity that you can’t help it but root for him.
A group of children (you find out later, they are not technically children) have been saved from the usual Dystopian-future scorching of the Earth and sky and are buried deep underground in an Ark by their savior called Mother. She protects them from the outside world until the air and sky are safe enough to resurface. They are waiting for the New Dawn. Her “children” mean the world to her, and as such, each one has been specially chosen with an equally special job to help aid in their important mission: [doing their job to get to the surface]. Each day the factory workers put together their machines; the lab workers run their tests; the cafeteria workers serve the food; etc. You stay in your group, you reach your quota, and you do not distract others. And distractions could mean stalling their time to make it to the surface. Their favorite saying is “We work together, we succeed together.” Which incidentally also makes me think of the cliche “a team is only as strong as their weakest link.” (And then follow the bouncing ball…) Which THEN leads me to the scripture that says “[if my hand is causing me to sin, I shall cut it off…]
Quoting back to scripture is an interesting yet valid turn to take, because all the characters have biblical names. I haven’t figured out why just yet, but I’m wondering if in the next books we learn if there is a reason or if it is just a coincidence. No, you do not need to know any of the biblical stories to enjoy this one. It’s just an added bonus if you can remember who is from what story. 🙂 As an example, their hero is a child/worker named Moses. No, he didn’t bring the tablets down for Mother. He was a worker who worked hard and surpassed his quota, and thus was able to graduate and leave for “Paradise.” But I digress…
Mother is kind enough to take care of them. She provides food, shelter, and love. She also does things that make them feel more comfortable: like change the color of the large dome in their Ark to mimic the sky; reading them bedtime stories so they don’t dream …you know, motherly things. So since Mother is so kind and has their best intentions at heart, they are taught to turn report any suspicious and curious behavior. Any. Essentially even any thoughts of their own.
One boy in particular, our main character Noah, loves Mother very much. But he has discovered there is another person that keeps floating through his brain: a girl named Rebekah. He is already more excitable than the other children, but his hard work keeps suspicion about him to a minimum. In time, he learns that Rebekah is different too, but keeping their friendship is proving to be difficult, especially when they start piecing together the truth that Mother is hiding from them about their way of life.
But why would Mother lie?
Mother knows best…
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.