I've sat and mulled on this review for a few days. There is so much to like about this book: it's clever. It makes my nerd flag fly.
The play on words in the title "Fourth World" - is both a reference to the idea of the indigenous/first nations as well as time and space. It's diverse. I welcome more works where diverse characters take center stage and their stories are main focal points, rather than sidekicks.
It draws on ancient mythology and situates it in a different context.
It focuses on contemporary issues such as encroaching governments and how what often is presented as a 'good' for society is, in fact, the opposite.
Told in the alternating points of view of Isaak and Nadin, the story opens on a dying planet from Nadin's point of view. A mysterious stranger appears outside the life-supporting dome and is in danger of dying.
He doesn't look like anyone Nadin has seen before and then a deeper story unfolds.
Isaak's timeline takes place on Mars. His mother is a plants and microbiotics specialist. She works for the government. His father has abandoned the family and no one knows where he is. His best-friend is an anarchist and Isaak is in unrequited love with his other best friend.
Isaak's grandfather is a famed archeologist. Issak's would-be step-dad is too and as a youthful act of indiscretion goes wrong, pieces of the jigsaw puzzle begin to fall into place.
As the two storylines begin to merge, a realm of possibilities opens up. The chance to save an old world; the chance to better a new one.
I really enjoyed this story. It appealed to my intellectual side, but not so much my emotional one. While I liked the characters, I felt the story was more attuned to world-building, rather than character development.
There were parts of the story that lagged and parts of the story I re-read because it was written so well. There are big ideas and concepts in Fourth World. I appreciate and welcome this fact. Many YA stories ground themselves in Star Wars type history, but this one is more a slow revelation of how the invisible hand of power often works.