On my search for the #NextYaCraze, I recently received and began reading Cathrina Constantine’s Tallas, a dystopian young adult novel. With an alluring cover, and a premise that sounded promising, I was hopeful. The back cover synopsis reads:
In a decimated world, setting foot outside the protected village of Tallas is certain death—or so they say. Mutations caused by those in the wilderness have plagued Tallas’s citizens—or so they say…
For Doogan and Keeyla their belief in a Free Tallas has lost its glimmer. And when their young son, Fabal, is given a very dangerous assignment, they risk everything to protect him. Fleeing Tallas, they head for the wilderness. But when they are ambushed by cruel Mediators, Doogan is recaptured, and while Keeyla and Fabal escape, she is severely injured.
Can the two of them survive in the wilderness? Will Doogan getaway from the clutches of the Mediators? And are the terrible legends about the monsters beyond the walls of Tallas true?
I was able to read the 300 page novel in a few sittings. The chapters are taut, the suspense constant, and the characters compelling. The Elite are just that. Elite. They are the tops of government that make decisions. Fear is the motivation instituted. Management carries out the laws. Inside the borders of Tallas is a socialist society that is afraid, and hungry, and tired. Beyond the city limits the people of Tallas are led to believe is nothing by radioactive wasteland.
In a way, it is true. The seemingly uninhibited outer world is desolate, but alive. It is where monsters live and thrive, and rebels hide and plot. When young Fabal is assigned the dangerous life job of a mole –where he will be forced into dark, dank tunnels to search for water, and sent on other expendable missions, Doogan and Keeyla decide it is time to flee Tallas for the chance of surviving beyond the confines of the treacherous compound. Escape is far from easy. Hunted by Mediators (think militarized police force), they split up, and from then on the action is non-stop.
Full of twists, a horde of well-drawn characters, and an intriguing and original plot, Constantine tells an engaging tale that kept me riveted, turning pages, and anxious for answers. In an almost jungle-like atmosphere, Fabal encounters family, radiation-mutated creatures, and challenges that make this marvelous coming of age story gripping and entertaining, and even at times frightening.
Tallas is the kind of fantasy / science fiction novel that should be on the To-Be-Read list of YA and NA fans. It is not a book you want to miss. In short, I loved it.