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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Audio Book Review: Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

I found this interesting for its political presentation through an engaging protagonist.
Written by: Trent Reedy
Narrated by: Andrew Eiden
Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins 
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:05-13-14
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Genre: Sci Fi, YA
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0 

Publisher's Summary
From the author of Words in the Dust: an action packed YA novel set in a frighteningly plausible near future, about what happens when the States are no longer United.
Danny Wright never thought he'd be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enrolled in the National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the governor's orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd control mission... but then Danny's gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd. By the time the smoke clears, 12 people are dead. The president wants the soldiers arrested. The governor swears to protect them. And as tensions build on both sides, the conflict slowly escalates toward the unthinkable: a second American civil war.
With political questions that are popular in American culture yet rare in YA fiction, and a plot that's both excitingly provocative and frighteningly plausible, Divided We Fall will be Trent Reedy's very timely YA debut.
©2014 Trent Reedy (P)2014 Scholastic Inc.

Danny Wright is a seventeen year old who joined the Idaho National Guard to serve his country as his father did. Danny lives with, and helps to calm, his mother who struggles with an anxiety disorder. Danny did his summer basic training and returned to school expecting to finish out his senior year with his long time girl friend and his school buddies.

The President institutes a mandated ID registration for all US citizens. Idaho’s governor disagrees with the plan and refuses to implement or enforce it. Danny never expected to get called up to real action but his unit is pulled in to assist in quieting a protest riot in Boise. The crowd doesn’t back off and when a rock hits Danny’s gas mask his gun accidentally goes off initiating unplanned gunfire and tragedy. The Governor seeks to protect the young men in the unit while the Federal authorities seek to arrest and punish those responsible. People split in their opinions with many calling the guardsmen murderers, others calling them soldiers doing there jobs and another group naming them heroes.

Danny’s name is leaked and he and his school friends end up in a dangerous car chase trying to outrun Federal Agents. The kids get help from a surprising source but now his friends and the world wonder about Danny’s involvement with the Boise incident. Danny especially has to face his own sweetheart who has been harping about ‘those murderers being brought to justice’.

The political standoff escalates to a point where the soldiers have to choose loyalties between the Federal government and Idaho authorities. Idaho is shut off from access, leaving Danny’s fragile mother in another state, causing even more worry for Danny who has been pulled into full time defensive duty.

This story presented a scenario that could be all too real. The story deals with young adult issues of family, school, responsibilities and young love. I enjoyed the action and the real, natural teenage characters - to a point. There is some (sadly true to life?) idiocy in the behavior of the teens and there is one young man that is obsessed with conquering every cute female, younger and older. That activity and the repeated underage drinking makes this book not such a good teen role model/read, in my opinion. The ending crashed a bit with some of that teen idiocy and then leaves the action at an unresolved state.

The story brings to the forefront the very real problem of young adults going into battle situations and having to make difficult decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. On a philosophical level the story also opens up debate on the interesting political/civil issues of state versus national rights which is a timely discussion. I’m curious where the author takes the political battle from here. I recommend this to those who like an entertaining young adult story involving interesting political issues.

Audio Notes: The story is told from Danny’s view and I think Andrew Eiden did a good job of narrating. There was enough diversity in the narration to keep the characters distinct and to keep the story pace engaging. I liked the author’s use of news feeds and this added interest to the audio.

I received this as a free download through SYNC 2014 Summer audios. This selection was paired with the classic The Red Badge of Courage.  

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