Published on July 17th, 2014 | by Bradley Myles0
“My mother thinks I’m a Deviant. It’s the kind of thing that can really throw a girl for a loop.”
Deborah Rix’s debut novel, External Forces, is a post-apocalyptic thriller in the vein of Divergent or The Hunger Games. External Forces follows Jess Grant, a sixteen-year-old who joins the Special Forces of her strictly governed city in post-apocalyptic America. Jess has no desire to be a soldier, but enlists out of fear: she’s begun to show signs of deviance from government-mandated genetic ideals, and joining Special Forces is the only way to avoid detection by the Devotees tasked with eliminating such deviance. Everything in Special Forces is not as it seems, however. Jess is brilliant, but soon she starts learning things about her city—and the world beyond it—that she could never have imagined before.
Why You’ll Love It
External Forces is a refreshing take on an increasingly popular genre. There’s plenty of action, but the violence is never cheap. It always make an impact on the story and on Jess’ whose reaction to the physical violence done to—or by—her and her team is a complicated mixture of fascination and revulsion.
Jess is a compelling character, too, particularly as the book goes on. She’s brilliant and competent, doing her best to stay in control even when the world around her seems to be spinning out of it.
But most of all, External Forces feels fresh for the ideas at its core. The setting—particularly the shift from the city to the Deviant-populated outskirts—places the world’s pressing environmental concerns at the core of the book. From what we learn about Jess’ world at the end of the novel, it seems the environmental angle will only become more prominent later in the trilogy.
But the environmental themes are complemented by themes of diversity and mistreatment based on arbitrary human-made norms. In Jess’ world, it’s genetic deviance that is mistreated. But it’s no coincidence that—in a medium often lacking in diversity—Rix fills Jess’ squad in External Forces with characters that actually vary in terms of gender, skin color, culture, orientation, and family background.
External Forces is published by Dime Store Books.