Under Ground Book 1 by Alice Rachel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
*** 3 Cranky Stars ***
Under Ground by Alice Rachel is set in a dystopian future and in the aftermath of wars and famine. Society is highly stratified where women are second-class citizens, reduced to wives and breeding machines. A good marriage secures the social class for families, a woman’s reputation and her role inside society as well as maintaining the status quo of how that world operates.
We meet the main character, Thia, on the eve of her engagement to William, a boy from a prominent family. Thia’s parents are desperate for the marriage, especially Thia’s mother. It will raise the family’s fortunes and assure Thia a social position in a society where women have no rights and can be easily discarded.
Although quiet on the outside, inside Thia turmoil reigns and rebellion beats underneath. She meets Chi, a young man with secrets of his own and the will to challenge the status quo, a world of possibilities open for Thia. And the dilemma is posed as to whether she will choose captivity or freedom.
The tone and subject matter of this book reminded me a little of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But it’s more targeted toward the YA/NA market than Atwood’s chilling novel and it has a Eugenics theme, rather than a reducing fertility one.
This is a well-written book and some of the deeper concepts certainly provide food for thought. At times, I thought the first part of the book dragged and the set up could have been condensed to make it tighter. Written in first person point of view and with a solitary, isolated character too afraid to voice her opinions, the internal monologue of Thia dominated and there were parts where I wished action had been substituted for exposition.
The second part of the book picks up in its pacing. It’s more action-packed and focused. There were parts that stretched this reviewer’s level of belief (or disbelief), but a lot of the hanging threads in the narrative were brought together.
All in all, this is a good, solid read and recommended for fans of the YA-dystopian genre.
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