S.J. Sherwood's "A Grey Sun"
You know, there's something about a futuristic or dystopian setting that just works, you know? I mean to go from the times we live in, to decades sometimes even centuries into the future just opens up so many storytelling possibilities. That's why I was excited for this book. Because it's clear from the get go that the setting is drastically different from our own. What book am I talking about, you ask?
A Grey Sun (The Denounced Book 1)
A Grey Sun is about Ned, a wrongfully accused and convicted young man who is facing the death penalty. He is rescued from certain death by a mysterious group of people who then take him and all the others they saved to an ever-changing setting, ripe with good food, strict rules and mysterious intentions.
So what were my thoughts?
+ The Tone
S.J. Sherwood's A Grey Sun paints a pretty stark picture of the world he's created with Ned, our mc facing the death penalty in the book's opening. We spend the entire story in his head and beginning with him trying to face being wrongfully accused of a crime and having to die for it sets the tone for the rest of the story. And we all know how much I loves me a dark story. The dark tone is kept up throughout the entire story, even during times of celebration or would-be peace. And that made for a read where you didn't know what was coming next, and that makes it a read you don't want to put down.
+ The Setting
Sherwood does a great job of allowing us to learn where the story is taking place just as Ned does. This means we spend a lot of the story not knowing where we are. When Ned realized something about the place he's been taken after being saved from death, so do we, and that keeps you guessing as well, trying to figure where he and the rest of those who were saved could be. Learning more about Ned's surroundings often brought with it a sense of both dread and anticipation because you never knew what the new area would mean for Ned and those closest to him.
+ The Stakes
It's established early on that even though Ned and the others around him have been saved, their "saviors" aren't angels. Ned witnesses a gruesome act towards one of the groups, or Pods as the groups are called, not long after they arrive at their new homes. This act cements in Ned and the reader's minds that this safe haven isn't as safe as they thought. Every action was watched, evaluated and measured, and one wrong move could mean the end of your life. Talk about tense!
Now, even with all that said, I feel I should talk about my dislikes, because although I liked a lot about A Grey Sun, there were things that could have been better.
- The Characters
I'll be honest, most, if not all of the characters felt flat to me. It's almost as if they weren't much more than whatever they brought to the story. Ned was our arrogant, annoyingly know it all lead, and the members of his Pod could be summed up as the strong one, the distant, haunted one, the scared one, the smart/shy one and the optimistic, "glue" of the group. And they never really grew past those characteristics. Even Ned and his Pod's rivals were one-note. It's why I didn't enjoy A Grey Sun as much as I could've. When I don't connect with the characters, it makes it hard to care about the things they have to go through or overcome. And that's takes away a lot of the enjoyment in a book. Good characters can make or break a book in my eyes, and sadly, A Grey Sun suffers from the latter.
Still, the world Sherwood has created is so intriguing that I will be checking out the sequel, if for nothing more to see more of the world fleshed out. There moments in the book where you see where it could have shined, and I think developing the characters a little more and exploring the world a little more would have given it that extra oomph. Then again, I suppose this book had to set up future installments while not giving everything away, so I'll excuse it some of its shortcomings. Hopefully we learn more about the characters and their relationships are more believable in the sequel.