Review: "Soledad" by D.L. Young
I first received my copy from D.L. Young at Houston's Comicpalooza when I covered his table so he could attend the event's panels as a speaker. Before purchasing my own copy, I had peaked at one of the many books sitting across from me out of curiosity and found myself on chapter three before Young even returned to the table.
Before I even begin the review however, as always I will include the book's summary and a warning that some spoilers may be included in this review. Read at your own risk:
In the squalid aftermath of a collapsed nation, rival factions wage vicious battles over territory and precious resources, killer drones fly overhead in search of prey, and everyday life is a desperate scramble for survival. Welcome to the Republic of Texas. Soledad Paz is a slave, sold to a ruthless rebel leader by marauders who raided her home and murdered her parents. With her remarkable ability to see through any deception, she’s become an invaluable—and unwilling—secret weapon in the war to control the Republic. When a ghost from her former life unexpectedly appears, everything she thought she knew about her past shatters into oblivion and she resolves to find the truth…by any means necessary. But in the dark republic, the truth is never simple…and it’s never what you expect.
There's a primal nature to this almost-steampunk dystopian future that takes place in the state of Texas. The world is inhabited by three rival communities that fight over Natgas--this world's most precious commodity. These fields are somewhat divided up into the possession of three groups, the Bullocks having more control over the percentage of the fields, and ultimately the stakes the other two groups are faced with.
Our story focuses more however on the girl who shares the novel's namesake, Soledad. Soledad belongs to the group run by a character named Guzman who runs a more nomadic group of survivors. At a glance I admittedly suspected Soledad to be Guzman's lover of some kind or even daughter, given the nature of their initial relationship. I was pleasantly surprised when the book revealed to me that Soledad was in fact undertaking a unique role that had been given the title: "Reader."
Soledad has her own kind of super power that ultimately give her the ability to tell who can and cannot be trusted. The ability itself is interesting enough, considering this makes Soledad's role in her branch of society a frightening one as she is literally judge and slightly jury. What fascinates me is how, rather than let this power go to her head and invest her attention entirely into serving Guzman, she is entirely invested in the survival of her parents.
Its heart breaking to see Soledad's mind constantly in this struggle of whether or not the separation between herself and her parents is permanent or not, if the separation was intended by her parents or not. Its a very relatable struggle and causes her trouble just enough times in terms of where her motivations lie. Personally I think this is where the true power of the book really lies, especially how this emotional journey unfolds for the main character.
Young delivers a wonderful and gritty tale with an all too relatable protagonist that will keep you turning the pages, I definitely say this is a must read.