Prophet of the Badlands is a Coming of Age Tale set in a future that is part Mad Max, part Blade Runner

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Prophet of the Badlands is a Coming of Age Tale set in a future that is part Mad Max, part Blade Runner

There has always been something appealing about a post apocalyptic setting for me.  I remember watching and feeling very drawn to the original Mad Max movies as a kid (I swear I had parents; I cannot swear my young parents were actually parenting).  There is something so gripping about a world reduced to waste as a stage for the neverending and elemental battle for good and evil.  The premise of this novel certainly had me envisioning something along those lines, and it wasn’t too far from what I ended up with.  This is an adult book with adult situations, but I still think that lots of YA readers will find it pretty engaging, particularly as the protagonist is quite young.  My biggest complaint was that it felt too long, but I ended up deciding it was a three star read for me.  Lots of other reviewers scored it a lot higher, though, so if this is your genre, it’s definitely worth sampling, and it is currently free for kindleunlimited members.

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Goodreads Summary

For most twelve year olds, being kidnapped is terrifying. For Althea, it’s just Tuesday.

Her power to heal the wounded and cleanse the sick makes her a hunted commodity in the Badlands, a place devoid of technology where the strong write the law in blood. For as long as she can remember, they always come, they always take her, and she lets them. Passed around in an endless series of abductions, she obeys without question―mending those who killed to own her.

After three whole months in the same village, the affection of a young warrior makes her feel almost like a member of the tribe rather than a captive. Her brief joy shatters when raiders seize her yet again; for the first time in six years, being stolen hurts.

A reluctant escape sends her wandering, and she realizes her gift is a prize that causes as much death as it prevents. Her attempt to return to the tribe leaves her lost and alone, hounded at every turn. When a family who sees her not as the Prophet―but as a little girl―takes her in, she finds the courage to use her power to protect those she loves.

A strange man from a world beyond her imagining tests her newfound resolve, seeking to use her power to further his own agenda. Tired of being property, her freedom boils down to one question:

Can Althea balance the sanctity with which she holds all life against the miserable truth that some people deserve to die?

My Thoughts

This is a post apocalyptic coming of age story about a girl whose special healing abilities make her a precious commodity in a dangerous world.  This is a book you read for characters and setting.  There is plenty of action, but the point is really how Althea, the protagonist, must find her place in the world now that she is actually old enough to see it for what it is – a pretty horrible place with very few soft spots to land.  Frankly, it quickly felt like a gauntlet of misery that Althea might never finish running.  While each conflict offers something to Althea’s development and growth, her path could have been more compactly plotted.  Most readers will be glad they stuck out this seemingly neverending journey of horror because the resolution is satisfying, but it takes a long time to get to that elusive ending.  As a character, Althea’s biggest hurdle is the one she herself sees – she is too good and kind, no matter how awful her adversary or situation. There was a clear purpose in the lack of dimension, and most of the secondary characters do have shades of gray, but I think her Pollyanna nature will drive some readers crazy, especially those who equate kindness with weakness.  The setting was what I probably enjoyed the most about this book. It begins with a very Mad Max feel, peopled by primitive tribes and brimming with images of barren desolation. About halfway through, the desert gives way to a gritty and unfeeling city that evokes Blade Runner. While those worlds have been done before, I enjoyed the extensive detail that the author incorporates to make them vividly real for me as a reader.  Ultimately, I found this pretty compelling, and it was an intriguing take on the Bildungsroman.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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