Sep 15, 2009: “Above Ground” is a strong beginning to an intriguing, post-apocalyptic novel about a young woman who steps out of her safe environment to get a few thrills but sees more than she wanted to see. Lilith, like all humans, lives underground and has never seen the sky or the sun. The surface of the planet is only for the “Infected”; were-people, creatures with extra limbs, and other “freaks”. The only time Lilith would dare coming to the surface is to see a show displaying the Infected. Of course, the Infected have their own name for people like Lilith, and some of them have their own agendas.
In the Prologue, we’re introduced to some of the Infected as they are preparing to appear in the show. There is a lot of posturing and tension “in the air” due to the mixture of predator and prey types in the room. The reader is given the impression that something is about to happen soon that isn’t part of the usual show.
Chapter 1 introduces Lilith and her friend Emma as they’re standing in line, going through tight security before seeing the show. They seem like typical students and friends, excited and nervous about the upcoming event, and fascinated by their new surroundings. Lilith likes the open feeling of the sky but Emma is uncomfortable until a dome closes over the theatre. The presence of police and the security measures in the theatre increase the tension without slowing down the story.
The author has obviously put a lot of thought into the backstory and the world-building. In the first chapter she does a good job of conveying the excitement and nervousness of people living underground who come up to the surface for the first time. Some of their misconceptions were pretty funny. As more characters are introduced, we get an interesting mixture of peoples, all with their own personalities and customs. The story becomes more complicated as Lilith encounters various factions and has to choose who to trust. The writing is solid, the pace is good, and there is a nice balance between description and dialogue.
If you enjoy adventure stories with more than a touch of science fiction and fantasy, you’ll enjoy “Above Ground”. The characters are interesting and the plot moves along quickly. I’ll be interested in seeing where the author goes with this.
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