Even though some of my favorite books are old-school dystopian — A Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 — I haven’t picked up many of the new wave of books in this genre. One exception has been Nadine Brandes‘ Out of Time series. I reviewed book one, A Time to Die here. Book two, A Time to Speak continues chronicling the life of Parvin Blackwater.
Parvin lives in a future where the world was devastated by disaster. All she knows of civilization is walled in from the rest of the world and run by an oppressive government. The rulers control the population through Clocks. Each person knows when their life will end as their Clock counts down. Parvin was only months away from the end and her life hasn’t amounted to much. In book one, we saw how she began to change that, facing perils she never could have imagined. The true nature of the world she lived in also began to reveal itself.
I don’t want to give too much about this book and reveal the ending of the first for those who haven’t read it. I will say, Parvin has not quit on changing the fate of her people even though events have become much worse. With the Council packing people up and shipping them off to an unknown fate — which reminded me of 1930s Germany — Parvin struggles with being anyone’s leader. People are also dying before their Clocks expire. Her journey will take her to distant parts of the globe and force her to decide if she will lead, and speak, regardless of the risk to herself.
Brandes continues a well-realized, character-centric story with Parvin. Not that the other characters aren’t important or without depth, but Parvin drives this tale. You want to see what happens to her next, her choices and her changes. While her dystopian world will be familiar to genre fans, and Parvin follows that reluctant hero path, it’s her journey that sets her apart from the others. Stories like this are one reason why people write and read:
To remind us to evaluate our own journey on this world.