Title: The Moon Dwellers
Author: David Estes
Genre: YA, dystopian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In a desperate attempt to escape destruction decades earlier, humankind was forced underground, into the depths of the earth, creating a new society called the Tri-Realms.
After her parents and sister are abducted by the Enforcers, seventeen-year-old Adele, a member of the middle-class moon dwellers, is unjustly sentenced to life in prison for her parents' crimes of treason.
Against all odds, Adele must escape from the Pen and find her family, while being hunted by a deranged, killing machine named Rivet, who works for the President. She is helped by two other inmates, Tawni and Cole, each of whom have dark secrets that are better left undiscovered. Other than her friends, the only thing she has going for her is a wicked roundhouse kick and two fists that have been well-trained for combat by her father.
At the other end of the social spectrum is Tristan, the son of the President and a sun dweller. His mother is gone. He hates his father. Backed by only his servant and best friend, Roc, he leaves his lavish lifestyle in the Sun Realm, seeking to make something good out of his troubled life.
When a war breaks out within the Tri-Realms, Tristan is thrust into the middle of a conflict that seems to mysteriously follow Adele as she seeks to find her family and uncover her parents true past.
In their world, someone must die.
This is the second book by David Estes that I have read (the first being Fire Country), and it is even better than I was expecting!
First of all, I have to say I'm partial to the main characters because they have two of my favorite names - Adele and Tristan. But aside from their beautiful names, I really liked both characters. Adele is fiercely protective of her family, and is willing to do anything for them. She is stubborn and strong, which more than makes up for her rather small size. Tristan is the son of the President, and should be a spoiled brat and his father's lapdog - but his loyalty is to his disappeared mother, and he takes a lot of risks to undermine his father's unfairness.
The story opens with Adele and Tristan laying eyes on each other, and both of them are wracked with spasms of searing pain. I really liked this twist on the usual "love at first sight" trope - this isn't love, at least not at first. Both characters are more focused on justice and freedom than a whirlwind romance, which was refreshing. Along the way, Adele is joined by Cole and Tawni while Tristan is accompanied by Roc. I loved seeing their respective friendships develop - again, it was refreshing to read a YA dystopian novel that put so much emphasis on friendship and family.
As much as I liked the characters, the world was a little all-over-the-place. The Earth has been hit by a large meteor, and people in the United States have been evacuated to underground tunnels via a lottery system. We are told that the fate of the rest of the world is unknown, which is a little ridiculous since the US couldn't possibly be the only country that knew about a giant meteor and dug tunnels beforehand. We are also told that humans have evolved to be more resistant to the ash under the earth and less dependent on sunlight, and I find it hard to swallow that evolution has happened over the course of decades rather than millenia. I did appreciate the social hierarchy of the Sun, Moon, and Star dwellers - I can definitely see people stepping on the backs of others in order to make themselves more powerful.
The plot is very fast-paced and suspenseful; I enjoyed the fast pace, and I appreciated that bad things really happened to people instead of the main characters being magically invincible. Revolution is brewing, and there is an urgency that carries through the entire book. The many fight scenes towards the end got a little annoying though, but that's just a personal preference.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I'm interested in seeing how the revolution plays out!