In this novelette featuring crippled teenager, Abraham “Ham” Jones, and his tomboy partner, Zia Slate, the stakes are even higher. They have agreed to accept the memory weapons from their new guardian, Henry Lloyd, but with the power of the weapons comes the responsibility to follow “the right path.” It’s suppose to be simple: help one person at a time, but nothing in this harsh world is ever simple. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where food is scarce and gangs rule the street.
When Ham decides to go into the worst gang-ridden area of the city to save a little girl, Zia doesn’t think it’s a good idea. It’s too dangerous, but eventually she agrees and the two set off in search of the girl. When Zia goes off to scout ahead, Ham’s worst nightmare comes true. Zia is snatched by slavers. Can Ham find out where she has been taken and mount a defense to save her in two days before she is sold as a sex slave?
This was a pretty fun book. Zia’s Path is the third book in the Dark Future series, and while I’ve not read the first two books, I didn’t have much of a problem figuring out what was going on. (I may have to get the other two though, just to complete the story arc.)
The book is short, only about 50 pages or so. The length isn’t much of a detriment (though I’m sure reading the first two would’ve helped), and the story actually moves at a pretty fast clip.
When the story opens, our protagonists, Zia Slate and Abraham Jones, two fourteen year old survivors of the apocalypse, are heading into gang territory to rescue a five year old girl named Mari. Mari is the younger sister of one of Ham’s old friends, who is sadly now dead (though Mari doesn’t know that).
The gang is using Mari as bait so they can get people to rob/maim/kill/send to the sex slave trade. (It all depends on if you’re male or female and how unlucky you happen to be.) After all, what better bait than a cute little five year old girl who’s despondent over being abandoned by her now-dead brother? Exactly. The plan works like a freaking charm. (Lesson to be learned: find cute young child; use child as bait; become kings of ruined buildings. Noted.)
Unfortunately, on the way to the gang’s territory, Zia’s captured by a group of men and taken to the sex slave warehouse. There she’s prepped to go up for auction and is discovered to be a virgin, so she gets special treatment (well, as much as slaves get special treatment). (Those virgins, they’re valuable even in the post apocalypse.)
When Ham, who has a crippled leg and walks with a cane, arrives at the gang’s hideout, Zia’s nowhere to be found. Because, you know, she’s already been captured and is awaiting the auction block. (Which may or may not be better than the executioner’s block.) Unfortunately, Ham becomes an easy target for the gang, with his bum leg and all.
But look! What is this? Ham is kicking ass and taking names! How is this possible?!
His cane is a memory weapon, that’s how it’s possible. (Admittedly, I had a bit of trouble figuring out what the hell a memory weapon was, but it becomes clear as the story progresses.)
Anyway, Ham and Henry Lloyd (Ham and Zia’s new guardian) go off to try and free Zia, because being a sex slave would seriously suck. Like, seriously, even in the bleak, dreary world Earth has become.
I quite liked this novelette. It was a short, fun, easy read. It moved at a good pace, and was non-stop action from beginning to end. (Which makes sense, really, when you think about how short the book is.)
I did have some gaps in my knowledge of the world, but this was because I haven’t read the first two books in the series, not because the world-building was inadequate.
While the book was well-written, I did have an issue with the multiple first person POVs. This is, obviously, a subjective dislike. But, while I have no problems with first person (and have even been known to enjoy first person, present-tense novels), I am not such a fan of books with more than one first person POV character. If the focus is on more than one character, I much prefer the book be written in third person. But as I said, this is a subjective dislike, and what didn’t work for me might just work for you.
Overall, if you’re looking for a quick dystopian read, I recommend this book. It’s categorized as YA, but it’s a far cry from the current popular vampire novels (ahem). (Thank god.)