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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Execution World by Chanta Rand and Rob Shelsky

This is the second book that I've read by author Chanta Rand with the first being Goddess. The two books couldn't be more different, but both are very well written and imaginative. In Execution World, Ms. Rand co-authors the story with author Rob Shelsky. The story begins with a cluster of humans in the process of leaving Earth on a fleet that consists of hundreds of asteroids. Technology has made it so that asteroids are capable of carrying humans across space. The departing humans wanted freedom from Earth's authority and the ability to create their own destinies. Rather than get into an all-out war Earth has given them supplies and their blessing to leave. The problem is their journey will take a thousand years to complete and their idealism must face the test of time. The book then does a fast-forward some 350 years or
so I believe. A class system has developed in the diaspora. The wealthy plutocrats, or "crats" live above ground and have all of the benefits of power. They are educated, well fed, and can have as many children as they desire. The poor people are called "slaggers." They often live underground where they toil in poor and often deadly conditions. They are perpetually hungry and are only able to have one child per person, even if that child dies. The heroine of the story is a slagger by the name of Jaxx Asani. She works as a bounty hunter and is seventeen years old. Her job is to hunt down criminals (usually slaggers) and she's good at her job. Jaxx ends up on the run and on the wrong side of the law after attempting to help her sister and after crossing her boss.
The hero of the story is Kord de Tollard, a crat who like Jaxx has found himself running from the law as well. Kord's crime was one of kindness and generosity that was unfortunately at cross purposes with the plans of a powerful crat. When the two (Jaxx and Kord) meet there is a lot of distrust that stems from ingrained prejudices, however. the events that lead up to their capture creates a bond of respect between them. Unfortunately they are both sentenced for their crimes and are sent to the Execution World. Execution World is an asteroid that has been engineered to be deadly - from the environment to the animals, everything is lethal. Add to that the competitors (all of whom are prisoners) and the chances of survival are slim to none. The goal of the game is to reach the Sword of Freedom. That means creating allies who must eventually be killed in order to win as there can only be one person who actually reaches the sword. Once he or she has obtained it he or she will have earned freedom.
This book will remind most readers of The Hunger Games in that it is a deadly game created by the wealthy, privileged few who watch, bet, and even provide supplies. Execution World, in my opinion, is so much deadlier and it left me on the edge of my seat wondering how both Jaxx and Kord could possibly make it out alive. I really enjoyed reading this book and I felt like the authors did a wonderful job at building a society and situations that were very believable. Jaxx was a very strong heroine that did what was needed to survive. Kord was another great character who grew tremendously from the beginning of the book to the end. Where he starts off somewhat weak and naive, likely do to his status as a pampered crat, he grows into a leader that people are willing to follow. It's interesting to see him realize just how privileged his life has been and how blind he has been to some suspicious parts of the society that he thought he knew. There were some great secondary characters that tag along with the main characters and they do a great job in helping the reader to understand the hero or heroine. This is particularly true when it came to the "neanderthal" who became Kor's ally for a good portion of the book.
While I enjoyed it as a sci-fi story, I didn't much buy into the romance between Kord and Jaxx. There was very little time in the story where are two characters were together. They meet and are arrested within a very short period. After they are arrested they don't meet up again until they are nearly at the end of their quest for the Sword of Freedom. Although they thought of one another during their time apart I didn't see where they could have fallen in love. Yet, when they meet up they kiss and behave like lovers reunited. They even confess love for one another. I didn't buy it and I wish the authors would have built up a believable love story between the two, even if it took until the next book. The confessions of love just felt like desperation and a case of needing to feel love before one dies.
I definitely recommend Execution World to anyone who enjoys sci-fi romance (although it is light on the romance) and a bit of horror thrown in. This book was engaging and it was difficult to put down once I got a free moment to read uninterrupted. This is a series so I'm anticipating the next installment. I'm giving Execution World a 4 out of 5 rating.

*I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Rating: 4 out of 5
Date Published: July 2, 2014
Publisher: Shelsky & Rand

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