Title: Dead of Night
Series: Aftershock #1
Author: Carlyle Labuschagne
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Sci-Fiction
Disclaimer: I got this book via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Thank you for sending me this book.
In a dark and desolated After Earth, love still does exist, but the cost of bearing such a flaw is death.
World War III has left Earth in utter turmoil. People’s beliefs are said to be the cause of the worldwide destruction. After The Clearing new laws are set about – to show certitude in anything besides the law is weak and chargeable as mutiny. To be illogical and have faith in religion is illegal, to be limitless is dangerous. And Illness is seen as a defect – all flaws that are inexcusable.
But to love is the greatest betrayal of all man kind. It is a fault the world has long forgotten and punishable by death, a fatal risk Aecker and Opel are fully prepared to take – because in love there is freedom. But how far can they push back before it claims their lives and of those they care about?
So, the blurb says “To be illogical and have faith in religion is illegal“… the ones who are religious are illogical? That’s not a nice thing to say.
I usually don’t read dystopian novels; it does not matter if they’re young adult, or general fiction. I tend to not like them. However, I liked this novel’s blurb and I said to myself why not give it a chance? Maybe it will be an interesting story. Anyway, this my review for Dead of Night by Carlyle Labuschagne.
Or what the protagonist knows and sees.
This novel is a first person narrative, therefore we’re inside the main character’s mind; main characters actually, since the story is told from two perspectives: Opal and Aecker’s. Naturally, with a first person narrative we get some rambling from the characters; what they feel, what they think – nothing really important to the story, or to the characters’ development.
We only know what Opal and Aecker know, see, figure out, hear etc. Since Opal lost her memories, her point of view is quite limited when it comes to the background story. And not just for a while, until she recovers them. At some point in the story, she starts to get them back gradually, up until she remembers everything. Unfortunately, she doesn’t mention the memories; not really. She says “she remembers now”, but only one or two flashbacks are told in some details, the rest is pretty vague. As I said, Opal’s point of view doesn’t help the reader understand the backstory.
Aecker’s point of view is a little bit more detailed when it comes to the backstory, but the reader doesn’t get much out of him. At least we get to find out when and how Aecker saw Opal.
I would say that the biggest problem with the narrative is the missing backstory. Aecker says several times that he used to do certain stuff before the WWIII, or during it. However, we don’t get to know what happened during the war, why it started in the first place, who were the participants, where was the main battlefield and so on. We also don’t get to find out about Opal and Aecker’s time spent together before Opal lost her memories.
Because of the missing backstory, the reader feels like he/she is missing something. The characters seems to know each other, and they know certain details, but the reader does not. It feels like this is not the first book in the series, or that a big chunk of it is missing.
In other words, what happens to the characters.
The book is divided in two parts. Part one is focused mainly on the romance. A lot of things happen to the two main characters because they want to be together. Therefore, the romance is the main plot, while the dystopian theme is the main reason why they cannot be together in peace. Part two doesn’t have any scenes with Opal and Aecker together, but is still connected to the romance.
The story has a lot of actions; many fighting scenes and stuff like that. Opal and Aecker seem to spend a lot of time running, getting caught, running again, getting caught again.
ST is the new government I guess, and for some reason they want something Opal has. They also hate the ones who aren’t coded and on their side. I am not sure why love or faith is considered a flaw; it is a problem, but it is not explained why exactly. Or why reading is considered to be pointless…
I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect love to be the main plot of this novel, especially since it is a dystopian novel. Plus, some things that happen in the novel did happened in the past. For example, in USSR.
I have a feeling that no matter what happens to the characters, they will end up together eventually. Not many fictional heroes die these days.
Overall, the main idea is quite interesting, and the novel is entertaining enough. It is not a boring book, quite the contrary.
Main Character: Opal
She is a Tracker, a person with a coded DNA, design to track and eliminate the rebels. They don’t have a name, just a number; they’re like a prisoner in a re-education camp during the USSR – no name=nobody.
As I mentioned above, her backstory is missing, and it would’ve been nice to learn more about her. She is not suppose to feel emotions, and have feelings (yes, they’re two different things). After she lost her memories, she kept saying “I feel this, or that emotion/feeling” and then she would name it. Well, if she doesn’t know what emotions and feelings are, how can she put a name to them? Also, I would’ve like to see her act according to her emotions, instead of being told what she feels; her tone of voice, her facial expression, her body language etc. It would’ve make her more real.
Since Opal wakes up with no memories, running away with a boy she just met seemed a little bit stupid. No post traumatic stress, no lack of trust, no fear, nothing? Why would you put your life in the hands of someone you know for 3 days?
Aecker said something that didn’t make sense to me. He mentioned the fact that Opal is unique in her beauty, since girls used to look like her only before the war, and now girls aren’t that beautiful, cuz “they hide themselves under ugly clothes”. Why is Opal that beautiful? It’s a genetic thing, so why the girl after the war are less beautiful than the girls before WWIII? I don’t get that.
Opal is not a very dynamic character. She did not change much throughout the novel. Opal with memories is not that different than Opal without them. She is a fighter, strong, impulsive, and she loves Aecker. I would’ve like more character development.
Main Character: Aecker
I liked Aecker as a main character more than I liked Opal. He likes to read, he stands up for what he believes in, he is a good person, and loyal. More showing than telling would’ve help bring him more to life, that’s for sure.
It was mentioned that he was coded since he fights so good; as in, normal people cannot fight and have those kind of reflexes. Are you sure about that? There are people who are great fighters; strong, agile, fast, and with a high tolerance for pain. I wouldn’t say is a dystopian thing at all.
Aecker lives Cupola, the city he is suppose to rule and protect so he can be with Opal. He knows her for a while now, even though we don’t get to see that; it’s mentioned a couple of time and that’s about it. It still seemed kinda silly for him to abandon all his people and his responsibilities just so he can be with a girl.
They are the bad guys. They demand that people should be coded, they shouldn’t love, have faith. Why? Not sure. It’s seen as a flaw, and a danger to their regime for some reason. How do you stop people from loving? It’s a feeling, not something rational. You can choose not to act on your love, but not to stop loving people. I mean, parents don’t love their children?
They need a little bit more developing; their reasons need to be explained in more details. They seem to be bad for the sake of being bad. I mean, the Soviets had many reasons, and power was just one of them, but not the main one.
They are interesting and add more drama to the story, don’t get me wrong. I just wished they would be more dynamic.
Secondary Characters: Noah and Aecker’s brother
I do like the secondary characters. They are developed pretty well. Some backstory on them wouldn’t hurt.
The romance in this novel is a little bit forced. They see each other, and they’re in love. That’s the feeling you get from reading the novel, since, as I mentioned, the backstory is missing. And even with it, the fact that Opal has mushy feelings for Aecker even though she doesn’t remember him, is a little bit exaggerated.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea; two people in love in a country were loving is illegal. I would’ve like to be more developed, and to be a sub-plot, not the main plot of this novel. But that’s just me. I’m sure there are people out there who would love this kind of romance. I am not a huge fan of romance novels, since the dislike.
The author does a good job with describing the setting, and the environment. I’m still not sure where is the novel set; in USA? I suppose, since most dystopian novels are set in US – so the bad stuff are happening only there :P.
However, there some parts I feel like are left hanging. I don’t get the coded thing. How is it done exactly? Yes, modifying the DNA, but how? And why was it necessary ? Too many people died in the war, yes, but why not help them have more babies? And how come Opal has that kind of heart? How is she alive? How come she has blood? More explanations on the science part of the novel would’ve been great – as long as it makes sense, of course.
Also, some details about the actual war would’ve been nice. Why it started, where it took place, which countries took part in it etc. (no, not all countries took part in WWI and WWII, so I suppose that would be the case for a WWIII as well).
Overall, the world building is quite good.
It is not a perfect novel, but it is quite enjoyably. I liked reading it, and it is entertaining. The reader does get hook into the story, and the fast paced also helps a lot.
I liked the novel, despite its flaws. I will read the next book, since I want to know what happened to Aecker, and I also want to give the author a chance to prove herself – she does have a lot of potential, and her writing is beautiful. I hope it would not be a 6 books series, with a lot of padding and info dumping.
I think most YA lovers would love this book, especially the ones who like dystopian and romance novels. If you want to try to get into dystopian, this novel is a good way to start and get a main concept of the genre.
Overall, I give Dead of Night a rating of 3.5. In Goodreads stars that would be a rating of 4 (rounding up.)