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By TassieDk, member

Feb 12, 2019: Stasis. It’s a catchy title for a catchy novel. I am reading it while it is being written, almost, as the novel is a story in progress. I’ve finally caught up with the author now, and I can’t wait to read more. I’ve read the first 33 chapters (that are available at the time of writing this), which means I’m almost halfway in Part Two.

Stasis takes place in a dystopian future, and the main character is Peyton. I like Peyton, although he is a bit wimpy and insecure, but there’s nothing wrong with being those things, especially when he’s a good guy who just wants to be liked, maybe even loved.

The novel is divided into four parts, and while the first part is introductionary, part two seems to be more "active" in the sense that the characters start doing something to change the status quo. The further I’ve gotten into the story, the more I like the characters. I also like the plot, of course, and I love how samberk manages to describe even the smallest details, like when the characters are eating lunch or brushing their hair, and that’s a real talent, in my opinion. I think few writers can "get away with" describing daily chores like that, but samberk is one of them.

The lead character is, as mentioned, Peyton, but Stasis is not a story about just one person. The story is told from an omnipresent narrator who follows each character in turn. Other "stars" in the story include Kendall, Olive, Randi and Ellis. Kendall and Olive are Peyton’s closest friends, and lucky for him, he gets to be able to spend a lot of time with them at the Academy where they have all been sent to.

Stasis isn’t exactly an action-based novel, but that doesn’t mean that the characters aren’t doing stuff. The characters struggle with a lot of things, and Peyton struggles with being insecure and doubting whether his friends really want to hang out with him or not. Peyton has already gone through a personal development during part one and two, as he finds himself in a situation where he has to do something and not just let others do what they want.

The opening scene (in the first chapter) might seem a bit "scary", but that only helps to underline the deeper mysteries of the futuristic society. I found myself asking questions during a lot of the chapters, and by hinting at what’s going on, the reader will be curious so they want to read more to get the answers. I certainly know that that was the case for me.

The story itself is intriguing and samberk manages, like mentioned previously, to keep the reader’s interest. The style of writing and the genre fit together nicely. I like futuristic and dystopian stories, so Stasis has been the right story for me to read. Grammar and spelling: The language is varied and with a lot of nuances. There are very few spelling mistakes and the grammar is great.

Overall score: 5/5

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Welcome To The Academy

By Hejin57, author of Music Masters

Dec 19, 2018: Often times, I find myself hard-pressed to get into dystopian stories, especially if they don’t carry with them some unique premise or way of showing things. So it’s always a pleasure to find something that breaks my preconceptions, even in the simplest way possible.

The following story, simply named Stasis, revolves around a dystopian future of sorts, where humanity has been brought to brink and their population has diminished because of it. To survive this bleak future, people lead incredibly structured and ordered lives, and adolescents are expected to go to something known as the Academy: a neo-school of sorts where they will quite literally learn their place in life.

Our story in particular focuses on female student Randi, already familiar with the Academy and its workings, as well as newly inducted trio Peyton, Olive and Kendall. What begins as a strangely sunny trek into a new school becomes a much more sinister venture as the Academy proves to be more appropriate for the likes of V for Vendetta or 1984.

To make things clear, a lot of of what Stasis does as a story has been seen time and time again, so some might be turned off by the mundane nature of it, especially in the earlier chapters. Its biggest strength, however, lies in the character-driven narrative and writing style. Both are clean and concise, and the author gives you a great feeling of the characters early on, from the nerve-wracked Peyton to the always optimistic Olive, and even with minor characters like Blake and Avery and Peyton’s roommate Scout. Everyone has a clear and distinct voice, and it was thus very easy to keep track of and become attached to the various players in the story.

Not to spoil anything, but the arc centering around Ellis in particular really caught me, in terms of what it revealed about the world and just how bleak and ruined this future is.

In terms of improvement, I think the pacing can be a little slow sometimes, but that’s really just a side-effect of the fact the story relies more on character moments and dialogue than pulse-pounding action.

In the end though, it proves itself to be a great piece of intelligent fiction, definitely inching towards the likes of Orwell, Asimov and Clarke in its own right.

Compelling is the perfect word to describe it, and so, of course it’s a recommended read.

Final score: 4.5/5

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Both Feet Out Of The Grave

By tkjarrah, author of blacklight

Aug 8, 2016: Short version:

Graves is a cyberpunk-ish fantasy thriller with a tight plot, engaging characters and deep lore, and it feels like it’s gonna be big. Read it.

Long version:

In the world of Graves, humanity live in (a?) floating city (/ies?), with most of the landmass covered by necropolises that house the dead, and . . . other things. The city’s elite live in the glossy upper levels of the city, while the poor slum below. LM4s, those with the ability to channel the power of ghosts, the residual energy left behind by a death, are rounded up and forced into servitude by the government, collared and controlled.

Daria Novotsky is an unregistered LM4, living in the lower levels of the city and hiding her powers, stealing to support her family. But when that brings her into contact with the criminal gang known as the Graves, she finds herself embroiled in their revolutionary plans, and the conspiracies of the city’s rulers.

Graves treats its world-building carefully, never giving the reader anything more than they need to understand what’s going on. Personally, I think it does it well, and found it interesting and engaging, but I can easily understand how some might instead view it as opaque and frustrating. I’m of the opinion that it works, and it kept me invested in the world and eager to discover more. Nevertheless, it does mean that a lot of details about the setting are still unknown, so some of the stuff I wrote up there may not be 100% accurate. For example, there’s a state religion involving broadcasts and the kept (government-owned LM4s) that’s barely been elaborated on, just tantalizingly hanging in the background. If you don’t like that sort of thing, Graves may not be the story for you.

The plot, fittingly for a thriller, really races along. Presumably, the complete aversion to getting even slightly bogged down in exposition or world-building is a big aid to that. It’s got good mystery and suspense, the prose is fantastic, and it twists and turns back and forth in a pleasingly unpredictable manner. The characters are varied and interesting, and while there are quite a few of them, they’re introduced just far enough apart to not be confusing. At the current point in the story (6.11), it’s practically an ensemble cast, but I have no trouble telling them apart.

The writing and editing is top-notch. I didn’t notice a single typo in my entire readthrough, and the presentation of the story is equally slick. In a field where shoddy grammar and formatting can be considered an expected possible hazard, it really stands out to have something this technically flawless.

The story is told in first person, and initially this brought up a concern for me. See, Daria has a boyfriend, named Ric. And Ric is just objectively awful. Due to the narration, though, I couldn’t quite tell if this was deliberate, or if it was a Twilight-esque complete misunderstanding of how characters come off. Minor spoilers, it is eventually proved to be the former, which actually enhanced the experience for me. It was a really good use of first-person perspective.

So overall, I give Graves top marks in all categories, and an overall score of 4 stars, with a possible upgrade to 4.5 or 5 depending on where it goes from here. Go read it.

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