Tag Archives: Dystopia

#Spotlight on Mikhaeyla Kopievsky of Resistance (Divided Elements #1)

MIKHAEYLA KOPIEVSKY is an independent speculative fictionML Profile Photo author who loves writing about complex and flawed characters in stories that explore philosophy, sociology and politics. She holds degrees in International Relations, Journalism, and Environmental Science.  A former counter-terrorism advisor, she has travelled to and worked in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Mikhaeyla lives in the Hunter Valley, Australia, with her husband and son. Divided Elements | Resistance is her debut offering.

  1. What’s Resistance about?

Resistance (Divided Elements #1) is the story of Anaiya 234 – a Peacekeeper of the Fire Element who patrols Otpor’s streets enforcing the Orthodoxy. In Otpor, a future post-apocalyptic Paris, Reistance book covverlife is a utopia – debauchery, security and stability are all provided by the Cooperative and maintained by strict adherence to the ruling ideology. Wrong action is termed Unorthodoxy and punished in a way similar to how crimes are dealt with in these days – retraint and detention. But, wrong thought – Heterodoxy – that is the real crime.

Only once has the crime of Heterodoxy taken place, and the original Resistor – Kane 148 – was Executed for it. But, now Heterodox murals are appearing on crumbling Otpor infrastructure, hinting at a new rebellion. Radical measures will be taken to find and take down this new Resistance, changing life in Otpor and Anaiya, forever.2.

2, Why did you write your book?

I started (and finished) writing this book for two reasons: 1) I needed to finally take my passion for writing seriously and commit to crafting and finishing a novel whose standard of quality I could be proud of, and 2) I needed to tell this story that calls into question humanity’s endless ambition to categorise society into us vs them, self vs other, familiar vs threatening. It is a theme that I am deeply passionate about – ignorance, xenophobia, intolerance and apathy are at the core of most of humanity’s problems. I believe if we focused on what we have in common, or on what our unique and individual skills, beliefs and perspectives can contribute, we would be that much closer to a more utopian ideal of humanity.

3. Who is the main character in Resistance?

Anaiya 234 is a complex and flawed character. Many readers find her unlikeable at the beginning of the story – which is not surprising since she is so fiercely and steadfastly dedicated to fulfilling her Peacekeeper role. As a Fire Elemental, she is conditioned to have only a limited spectrum of emotions, to be practical and stoic – a finely tuned instrument in keeping Otpor citizen’s compliant and the streets safe.

But, Anaiya has a shadowy legacy that follows her around. And when the discovery of new Heterodox murals gives her the opportunity to erase this legacy, she finds herself unable to say no. As the key player in the strategy to dismantle the Resistance, Anaiya is thrown into a new world where everything she has learned and taken for granted is suddenly called into question. Some of my favourite reviews of Resistance, talk about how much they love seeing the shift in Anaiya’s personality and the internal conflict she struggles with throughout the book.

4. Why do you think people should buy Resistance?

This book is for readers who love the dystopian and post-apocalyptic scifi genres, but who want a darker and grittier story than what YA books are offering. One reader called Resistance “Divergent’s bigger, badder, tougher, realer older sister”. While it will satisfy your need for the standard dystopian tropes, this book turns them on their head and puts them in a new context – in this story, the protagonist is not a hero, but a real and flawed character. And they’re not on a self-righteous path to bring down the Government, they’re actively fighting the Resistance while struggling with their convictions in doing so.

If you like stories with interesting characters and dynamic world-building that will challenge as well as entertain you, then I think this one is for you!

Resistance review blurb image

5. What’s your favorite writing snack?

I rarely snack when I write! I usually find that I get so immersed in the story, I either forget to eat or rush to pull together something very basic so I can get back into it! That being said, I do love to celebrate writing milestones with a nice dinner – my favourite is a local French restaurant (fitting, no?) where I could spend many a long, lazy Sunday brunch eating the charcuterie platter and indulging in a nice bottle of French wine!

6. What’s your favorite writing beverage?

As most authors would attest, writing is a caffeinated sport I am one of those strange people that doesn’t drink tea or coffee, so I get my fix with Coke Zero – sometimes spiked with bourbon if I’m channelling my inner Hemingway… But I am also very partial to mojitos in summer and a nice Hendricks G&T while the sun is going down. When I lived in Sydney. I loved visiting the small bars and speakeasies. Unsurprising, then, that I created a Cocktail Companion Guide to Resistance that readers can download for free here: www.instafreebie.com/free/1q8wq8

7. If you were on desert island with just one book to read, what would it be and why?

That is a very cruel scenario! Without my library of ficton and non-fiction, I guess it would have to be “How to successfully escape a desert island and make it back to civilisation”

8. Who is your go to celebrity crush?

Now this is a MUCH easier question to answer Supernatural’s Dean Winchester has been the inspiration for many of my characters. Even Seth, a character in Resistance (Divided Elements #1) took some initial inspiration from the hunter with a saviour complex. Supernatural is also my go-to binge watching fix when I’m stressing out about writing deadlines or immovable plot problems. Now, if you were throwing the box set of Supernatural episodes or even Dean Winchester himself into the desert island scenario, I might not be so worried about reading that book…

You can keep in touch with Mikhaeyla @:

www.kyrija.com/mikhaeyla-kopievsky

https://www.facebook.com/MikhaeylaKopievsky/

https://twitter.com/MikhaeylaK

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32719178-resistance

Get Resistance the ebook @:

Amazon: (global link) http://mybook.to/DE1Resistance
Kobo: 
https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/resistance-45
Nook: 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/resistance-mikhaeyla-kopievsky/1124987737
iBooks: 
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1168636508

Get Resistance the paperback @:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Resistance-Divided-Elements-Book-1/dp/0995421854
Book Depository: 
https://www.bookdepository.com/Resistance-Mikhaeyl-Kopievsky/9780995421851
Booktopia: 
http://www.booktopia.com.au/resistance-mikhaeyla-kopievsky/prod9780995421851.html

One last thing I forgot to mention –

The official online launch for Resistance takes place on Saturday 4 February. There will be excerpt readings, an author Q&A, and special guests to talk about the development of the book’s cover art and discuss the themes of the book. Mikhaeyla would love to invite ll of you to attend – you can RSVP here (it’s an open invitation, so feel free to share with friends and family!)

#BookReview Nirvana by J.R. Stewart (Blue Moon Publishers ‏@BlueMoonPbh) Two versions and two reviews

Nirvana by J. R. Stewart
Nirvana by J. R. Stewart

Title:   Nirvana
Author:   J.R. Stewart
ISBN:  0993639763

ISBN13:  978-0993639760
ASIN:  B014LLM1XW
Published:  10th November 2015
Pages:  201
Genre:  YA/Science-Fiction/Dystopian/Romance

This review is a bit special but I wanted to share it with you precisely for that reason. I reviewed an early version of this book that was offered through Net Galley before its publication and I was later contacted by the publishers’ (Blue Moon Publishers) PR Department who asked me if I’d read and review the revised version. I decided to share both reviews with you because I felt I had learned from the experience, both as a reader and as a writer.

  • Early ARC version review.

Nirvana by J.R. Stewart. Virtual reality, bees, grief and politics

Thanks to the publishers (Blue Moon Publishers) and to Net Galley for the gift of an advance copy of this book. I have read that it is undergoing major revisions, so it might be that some of the issues mentioned are no longer there if you get the final edition.

Nirvana, despite the name, is a dystopian Young Adult novel. It is set in a future where bees have disappeared and nature as we know it has gone; there are a few places left where people live (the novel takes place in Canada, around Toronto, although there are hints throughout the book that the situation might be slightly different in other places), and the Hexagon (yes, I know) controls “security” (read intrudes in everybody’s privacy, destroys all books and keeps a tight hold on everybody’s activities, words and imagination). Larissa, a young woman whose husband (a very talented scientist) disappeared during a mysterious mission six months ago is not ready to accept his death and refuses to let go.

The novel mostly focuses on Larissa, although the third person point of view sometimes shares the thoughts of other characters, like the Corporal, Serge (a childhood friend of Larissa’s), the psychologist…but not consistently and sometimes it seems to hide things, and we also get letters, documents, etc. The time-line can be somewhat challenging at times as Larissa can flicker between memories (how she met Andrew, her husband, their time at university, some of her musical gigs, her childhood memories including some very dark ones) and things that are happening at the time of the action of the novel, when she is being pressurised by the authorities to sign a document acknowledging that Andrew is death. Although this is how our mind works, sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference until you get to the next change in perspective. Perhaps a different type of letter or a break would make it easier. I also found the fact that many characters have similar names (all beginning with K, I’m not sure why) made me go back and forth to make sure.

The description of Larissa’s psychological state and emotions is accurate for somebody suffering from a grief reaction (even if in her case she has no real proof that her husband is dead). She feels guilty, angry, sad, confused and doubts constantly about what to do. Her family circumstances were already complicated and she does not know if her sister is alive or not and it’s not difficult to understand that she’d be reluctant to let go of the one bit of family she had left. We might lack outside perspective on her and know little about her previous personality so it’s difficult to get a full picture of the character but this will probably build over time.

I am not an expert in science-fiction but I know world-building can be one of the main strengths of these novels. After reading the author’s biography I understand why the parts that deal with virtual reality (the Bubble, that is where the crème of society live, in a fake world of their choosing, and Nirvana, that is the low-key version that workers might access, but in small doses) are very strong and mind-boggling, even scarily so. By contrast, the descriptions of the rest of the world are very succinct and only much later, when the point of view returns to some of the characters in positions of authority, we get to know a bit more about the world order, but this is more tell than show (although that is one of the difficulties with the genre, maintaining the balance between trying to make the story come alive whilst at the same time leaving something to the readers’ imagination).

The idea behind the politics of that world reminded me of 1984 (the level of intrusion into people’s lives is greater than even insiders realise), and the conspiracy theorists will “enjoy” the implications of some of the things uncovered and suggested towards the end of the novel. They throw an even darker light on the authorities and put into question loyalties and certainties. The comments about the interests behind big funding for scientific research and how those dictate the direction human progress takes made me pause and gave me cause for concern. (Having studied Medicine this is a thing we’re always aware of).

I found the brief discussions on physics and even music theory fascinating, but might not be to everybody’s taste, especially younger readers interested mainly in the characters.

I found the overall story engaging, although the surprise at the end was hinted at and most readers are likely to have guessed it by then, but it is a good twist and it leaves room for much more to come.

This is perhaps a novel that does not fit in comfortably within the YA category, but I think it’s a series worth keeping an eye on, as there are interesting plot lines, characters with plenty of hidden agendas and room for development, and a whole world (or worlds) that we’ve only glimpsed. And virtual reality as you haven’t seen it yet. Ah, and don’t forget to read the writer’s biography. It will make you very uneasy…

  • Published version

Nirvana by J. R. Stewart. Revised version and revised review. Still about bees, and virtual reality, less grief and politics.

Thanks to the publishers (Blue Moon Publishers) and Net Galley for providing me with a new copy of the revised version of the novel.

Let me explain why I’m reviewing this novel for the second time. Nirvana was gifted to reviewers in Net Galley and it garnered many reviews. I was one of the people who downloaded it and reviewed it over the late summer and published a review, aware that the book would not be published officially until later. The site offers you a chance to be kept informed or contacted by publishers with news about the authors and I said I’d be interested. I had a member of the PR department for the publishing company contact me and ask me if I’d be interest in reading the revised version. I was curious and they obliged and sent me the book.

It took me a while to get around to it but when I did I was surprised by how much it had changed. Rather than a revision it was a full rewrite. The story is about a dystopian future where the bees have died, and with them most of the plants and animals. The ‘Hexagon’ controls everybody’s lives, food and entertainment have become big businesses, and virtual reality is the only way people can experience life as it was, but this is also monitored, and very expensive. The really rich can live in a virtual reality paradise, called The Bubble, and there are several in different countries (although the story is set in Canada, near Toronto). Nirvana is the virtual reality system where the protagonist (Larissa Kenders) works and it has been created in its majority by her live-in boyfriend Andrew. Andrew disappears and the authorities tell Kenders he is dead. But he keeps appearing to her whilst she is in Nirvana, and although initially she thinks he is just a virtual reality creation, soon she realises that’s not the case. The rest of the book becomes her attempt at following the clues he gives her to retrieve something hidden but very important to the future of humanity whilst trying to remain alive. It’s difficult to know who she can trust and there are traps and conspiracies everywhere.

The novel now fits more neatly within the YA/NA dystopian genre. The story is told only from the point of view of the protagonist, Larissa Kenders, and in the first person present. It is told chronologically, and that avoids some of the confusion of the previous version. It also allows for a closer identification with the main character, and the reader gets to know more about her, about her activism and how her music was always socially conscious (even if she later realises things weren’t as she thought and she might have been playing into the hands of the big corporations). She is younger than in the previous book, although I wasn’t clear of the timeframe, as she’s supposed to be still 17, bus she has been engaged in campaigns in the past, is a famous singer, and has known Andrew, studied at university and visited many places with him before the Earth became practically a desert. It’s true though, that it falls with the genre’s convention that young protagonists seem to have lived several normal lives by the time we get to meet them.

It is easier to empathise with Kenders in this version and we also get to see more of her relationship with Andrew before he disappears. There are bad characters clearly delineated, some heroic ones (more so because doubts were cast upon them), and a more optimistic outlook. It ends with a big hook and the chase starts again, as it should in a series.

Sadly I missed what I had noted in my first review as perhaps not fitting in the genre. I liked the disquisitions about physics and musical theory that have not disappeared, and there is much less emphasis on the politics and funding of research (it is mentioned, but in passing). Perhaps the author will write, at some point, the book that according to her biographical note she had thought of writing, looking at the truth hidden behind the virtual reality industry and research. I’ll be waiting.

In summary, this is solid YA book, with romance, angst, chases, mystery, a strong, talented and intelligent female character, and an interesting world with a strong ecological theme and a warning. Look after the bees and the Earth before all you have left is just a holographic image and your memories.

 

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4.5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $12.99 http://www.amazon.com/Nirvana-J-R-Stewart/dp/0993639763/
Kindle: $3.98  http://www.amazon.com/Nirvana-Book-1-J-R-Stewart-ebook/dp/B014LLM1XW/

 

 Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

Thanks to Net Galley and Blue Moon Publishers for the two versions of the novel, thanks to you for reading and feel free to like, share, comment and CLICK

Review: The Dystopian Nation of City-State: An Anthology: Origin, Corruption, and Rebellion by: Courtney James and Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills

 The Dystopian Nation of City-State: An Anthology: Origin, Corruption, and Rebellion by: Courtney James (author) Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills (author)

The Dystopian Nation of City-State: An Anthology: Origin, Corruption, and Rebellion
by: Courtney James and Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills

Title:   The Dystopian Nation of City-State: An Anthology: Origin, Corruption, and Rebellion

Author:   Courtney James, Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills

ISBN: 

 ISBN13:

ASIN:  B00PYHAPT0

Published:  20th Nov 2014

Pages:  203

Genre:  Science-Fiction, YA (12 to 18)

I must confess this is not my usual kind of book, and I read it as it were by mistake. I have a long list of books to read, organised (?) according to how pressing the reviews are (I review for a digital magazine, also in Netgalley, and for a literary blog apart from sharing in my own blog and in a variety of places) and I got confused. When I realised this was not the next book on my list, I’d read around 70% of it so I couldn’t see much point in switching over. And I was gripped by the story/stories of this strange futuristic universe.

This is an episodic book, a collection of scenes and snippets, that can result a bit jarring when reading, but the whole picture of this dystopian future that is created through the variety of accounts and scenes becomes an almost coherent (and pretty scary) whole.

Not being a big sci-fi reader, I didn’t particularly miss the technological detail (although I think good aficionados might have something to say about buildings 200 storeys high. I loved the idea of an Olympus space-floating island where only the elite could live. I can imagine the technological challenge) whilst I happily connected with some of the darkest aspects of the story, like the strange cult that requires human sacrifices, the extremes of social prejudice and classification (that reminded me of Huxley’s A Brave New World) and the extremely corrupt politics.

The language was very simple and I thought the book could have benefited from another pair of eyes on the proofreading, editing stage, but the typos did not become distracting. It was an easy read although some people might appreciate more detail regarding descriptions of the layers of the world and the new technology. Considering the book is listed as for ages between 12 and 18 it probably pitches at the right level.

I’m not sure if there are plans for carrying on writing the series, but I felt with a bit more work connecting the episodes, there is very good material and fascinating ideas to get imaginations fired up. And as happens with the best dystopias, it makes one think about our world today.

It might be too fractured for some readers, but if you approach it with an open mind and are interested in dystopias and exploring possible future scenarios, there’s much to enjoy in this book.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 3.5/5
Recommended: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing: e-book
Paperback:  
Kindle: $2.06

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

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LWI Authors

Adult Fiction

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