Book Review: ‘External Forces’

by Aly Runke, contributing writer

Dystopian literature has been around for decades, however it seems to have come into popularity within this last decade, especially with regard to young adult (YA) literature. Anyone and everyone has heard of the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent, which have both become box offices successes as well. And now YA dystopian series that have been around for quite a few years such as The Uglies are gaining a new fan base. Another effect of such fervor is readers  -including me-  looking for more new dystopias to read. So, when I read the synopsis of External Forces by Deborah Rix I knew I had to read it, and boy, am I glad I did.

This book is everything you could want in a YA dystopian novel, and it’s only book one of a trilogy! External Forces is set in a skewed version of a world we know: America. Inside the walls is a carefully monitored “superior” genetic society, outside are wastelands and deviants, people born with a genetic difference of sorts. The society wants to weed these people out of existence, killing the newborns that are tested deviant, and hunting and killing those living in the wastelands i.e. the Southwest and Northwest United States and the rest of the world outside the enclosed America.

Our  protagonist, Jess Grant, is joining the military in order to hide; she fears she is in fact a deviant and somehow slipped through the cracks of detection. Mysterious talents with futuristic technology and Sim programs along with superpower-like abilities lead us to believe her assumptions about her deviance are correct. So she joins up to try and become a member of the Special Forces, a guarantee of little to no surveillance. The scientists, genetics technicians, are at the top of the food chain in this world. A tattoo of the DNA helix on their wrist marks them as being above the rest: as people to be afraid of. The only group immune to their influence is the military.

And that’s only a part of what will grab you in this book, there’s also romance (refreshingly minus the love triangle!), plus starting from chapter one, serious life-or-death situations. Ms. Rix does not shy away from ruthless killing or gore and, it’s fantastic; it serves to show the terror of the dystopia the characters live in. Just as in any beloved dystopia in External Forces we fall for the love interest, are horrified at the cruelty of the twisted society and its military, and become invested in the protagonist making it out alive and by the end eager to figure out even more abut this world. So, if you want an intense YA dystopia, go buy this book and join me in eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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