My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Doom and gloom rages, rattles and roars on the horizon! At least in the young adult market this appears to be the case. This whole booming genre breathes dust, desolation, destruction, disease and death; but it also seems to radiate youthful anticipation, aspiration, and rejuvenation. Ceri A. Lowe has burrowed her way into the whole scene with her new 376 page paperback, “Paradigm,” the first installment of a planned trilogy. Lowe tells a double story that follows the paths of two major teenage characters separated by 87 years.
“Paradigm” takes off in the middle of Carter Walker’s story as he enters into a kind of suspended animation – a form of population control imposed by the Industry for the good of the Community. When he is recalled from the Catacombs fifteen years later, things begin to really take off. Everything rehearsed in the beginning of his story slowly gets peeled back, chapter by chapter, until it becomes clear that what he believed with certainty is only partially true, and the actual truth changes his whole destiny. His tale, in this first volume, ends where Alice Davenport’s really began eight decades earlier.
Alice grows from an impoverished pre-teen to a survivor when the apocalyptic “Storms” came. She looks to be one of the few living people who end up being rescued by Paradigm Industries, a high-tech, literally underground, organization whose facility endures the five years of storms, flooding, serious environmental contamination and deconstruction. As Alice matures in those five years, she begins to develop resilience and determination, but also completely buys into the Industry’s social paradigm. She rises to become one of the leaders who surface from “the ship” to re-make the world in Paradigm’s image, a new world that will fix, sanitize and decontaminate all that was wrong before. Through Alice’s work the end becomes the beginning.
Carter’s and Alice’s narratives alternate, weaving back and forth around each other. Their stories come through successively swapping chapters that keep the movement of the tale jogging along at a steady pace, and make “Paradigm” an attention-keeper. Unfortunately there are a few places where it looks as if the story of one or the other of the main characters shows the stitches of a last minute re-write. But those stretched threads are not show-stoppers, they simply turn the narrative onto a different course than the author may have originally concocted.
“Paradigm” is an entertaining, attention grabbing read. The language is appropriate for any age, and there is nothing in it that would worry a conscientious parent. The book would be a great discussion starter for a youth book reading group. Everything from population control, to communalism, to ethical decision making, to “what would you do in that situation,” and so forth. I recommend this book.
Thanks to Boukouture for the e-copy used for this review.
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