With most of the world coming straight out of the futuristic dystopian realm of The Hunger Games’s Panem, the future colonies upon Earth’s moon in Karen Bao’s Dove Arising are simultaneously new and familiar.
15 year old Phaet (pronounced “fate”) Theta lives in Base IV on the moon and works in agriculture with her best friend Umbriel, whom she has known all her life. When her journalist mother becomes ill and is taken away for quarantine by Medical and soldiers, Phaet has to take responsibility for her younger brother and sister as her father died during a geological work outing six years previously–and you’d think that the gray streaks in her otherwise dark hair came from this new responsibility thrust upon her, but you’d be wrong; it’s in her genetics to go prematurely gray.
With limited funds to pay for rent, food, and her mother’s medical expenses, Phaet overrules Umbriel’s pleas and her rational distrust of the Committee, who run everything in their community and monitor everything that citizens say via embedded handsets, to save her family from the destitution of the Shelter by enlisting in the Militia in hopes of earning a more substantial income. Befriending the #1 trainee, Wes Kappa, who was the Medical assistant who took her mother away, Phaet improves her chances of survival as the youngest Militia trainee ever.
The story kept me intrigued from beginning to end, despite the predictable, somewhat formulaic plot trajectory and devices used to propel the narrative forward. I think that it was the aspect of living on the Moon in a rather realistic, futuristic setting that helped to alleviate my irritation at the formulaic nature of the story–particularly the building of tension between Phaet and the two guys in her life. The characters felt a little contrived and I felt they could have used more development, but perhaps that will come in greater strides in subsequent books. But I was rather impressed with the writing style and the details in building the visual of the scene.
Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.