Back a few weeks ago, at the release party for Failstate: Legends, I was asked who my favorite authors were. And I said that one of them was Jill Williamson. Granted, Jill is a friend of mine, so I might be a little biased, but when I read books like her latest, Captives, I am forced to conclude that no, I'm not being biased in the slightest.
In the not-too-distant future, society has broken down due to a plague. A lot of folks have grouped together in what was once known as Colorado, in a major city called "The Safe Lands." In the Safe Lands, everyone is permitted to pursue pleasure. As a matter of fact, that's what's expected of everyone. Live for today, focus only on yourself and what you want, and hope that it all works out.
Only it's not working out too well. Everyone is infected with something called the "thin plague." Worse, it's a disease that is passed on to any children born in the Safe Land. Thanks to the plague, that isn't many. The Safe Lands desperately needs an infusion of new citizens, uninfected citizens, who might be able to produce a new generation of citizens.
Enter Glenrock, a tiny village not too far from the Safe Lands itself. A few dozen people live a relatively simple life there, having rejected the Safe Lands and their decadent lifestyle. That's not to say that it's perfect. A young man named Mason, for example, is being forced into a loveless marriage by his father. Mason's younger brother Omar is constantly bullied by their father and the others of the village for being artistic rather than a hunter. So it's little wonder when Omar strikes a deal with the Safe Lands: he's willing to voluntarily join their society and he'll try to convince the others to come with.
Only the Safe Landers don't want to risk it. Enforcers enter Glenrock and kidnap most of the women and bring them into the city, along with Mason and Omar. Soon the people of Glenrock find themselves trapped inside the walls of the Safe Lands, unable to leave.
Will they be able to survive and escape? Or will the seductive call of the Safe Lands condemn them all?
This was a great book. In the interest of fairness, I did see an early copy of the manuscript, so I kind of knew where the story was going. But it was great to come back to the story now and see how Jill put it all together. I absolutely loved Mason. He's by far my favorite character and I'm rooting for him in future books. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but the good news is, that's easy to do.
But what was really fascinating was the Safe Lands and the way Jill described it. She created a vibrant if crumbling culture, one that leaps off the page and gets stuck in your mind. It's easy to see why it would be so appealing, but it's also easy to see why it would also be dangerous for a person of faith.
All in all, this is an excellent YA book and should definitely be picked up by everyone. Simply put, Jill did it again.