CITY OF THE FALLING SKY by Joseph Evans, 327pages, $Prices Vary at Amazon
Seckry and his mother and sister are forced to move away from their village to the big city of Skyfall, when the Endrin Corporation decides to mine an unknown substance that lays under the town. He’s not exactly happy about it. Even more than the beautiful village itself, he misses his old room and the fields of elonberries he used to pick with his long lost father.
It’s the year 2203 or somewhere there about, and Seckry has a new High School, new friends and a new enemy named Snibble. But he also discovers that city kids are into a game called Friction, the ultimate full body experience video game. He’s shocked when his mother presents him with a Friction Card worth 50 credits for his birthday. And the birthday surprises don’t end there. A beautiful girl named Natania asks him out on a date.
But Seckry could never imagine that his happy birthday would lead him into the dark world of the Endrin Corporation and the meeting of a mysterious girl, unclothed and covered in mud. She’s beautiful, doesn’t know anything about how she got to where she is, and is everything Seckry ever imagined a girlfriend could be. They decide together to name her Eiya.
Together with his new Friction buddies and Eiya, Seckry solves a case of unsolved murders, disappearances and a hideous plot by the President of Endrin Corporation that means the slaughter of thousands of people.
There’s always something about a book that makes a reader pick it up in the first place. From the first chapter (more about the prologue in a moment) Joseph Evans lures his reader in with light funny prose and a banter between his characters that’s natural and witty. The game of Friction that is the great preoccupation of his characters soon becomes a game the reader wishes they could play too: There’s loads of danger, and death is a slight possibility (oooh perfect). When players drown in a game of Friction, they feel like their drowning; so too does the reader.
City of the Falling Sky has everything a 12 to 14 year old boy or girl could want in an adventure novel but older more experienced readers may get slightly impatient with the rough edges. There are extra chapters that slow the action, and the prologue might have been a deal breaker were it not for a happy mistake at Amazon that whisked this reviewer to the first chapter when browsing the book online. There, the scene between a six year old Seckry and his father which is meant to set up a plot point, is the only awkward and sentimental piece of writing in an otherwise bright, good hearted and fast paced read. But readers should stick with it and get to the first chapter.
There is also an issue with technology. Books that take place nearly 200 years into the future should have technology that stretches the imagination and matches the time. Does anyone truly believe that kids will be listening to CD’s ten years from now for example, or that projectors will flicker in the back of classrooms? Do they even today? In Seckry’s world, students are still flipping open cell phones and sending texts, leaning against phone booths on the street, and tickets are still purchased from a conductor on the monorail. New devices are what make futuristic tales fun. Who can ever forget the foretelling of the I-pad in the 1970’s classic Ender’s Game for example.
The writing is simple and clear, with plot devices older readers will have seen dozens of times before, but younger readers will most likely find make for a riveting read. Doubtless they’ll go off looking for friends that are like Seckry and his Friction obsessed pals. They’re a fun group that can make an older reader wish he was 15 again. This book is a fair start for a writer who show’s true promise and writes with real heart.
Readers will recognize the potential this book has as a cartoon series on Nickelodian for example or as an Anime. This is not surprising when a quick read through Joseph Evan’s bio reveals that he was inspired as a writer by Harry Potter, Anime and Comic books. These influences on the book are clear. If anything, City OF THE FALLING SKY is a screen writer’s dream and with a little tweaking of the technology represented in it, this book (and the ones to follow) might have a future on the small screen. Joseph Evans has promised a second book in this series and we’ll be waiting for it.
Yaroos! gives City OF THE FALLING SKY 3 Stars.