In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez lives in a small fishing community. Next to fishing, her father and brothers hunt for Landers, mysterious people from across the sea who wash up on the shostre sometimes and have strange abilities. In just a day, Selah will turn 18 and she knows she will be expected to marry a man her father chose for her. But she would much rather be taken serious by her father, as her brothers are, and be a part of the family's hunting endavours. Almost by accident, Selah manages to capture a Lander herself, but strange things start happening to her afterwards. Before she knows it, Selah is running for her life without a place to go and the only person who can actually help her is Bodhi, the Lander she captured.
As you all know, dystopic YA books are a very big market nowadays and Christian publishers and authors are also getting involved in this. Thunder is the first YA novel from a Christian publisher I picked up. I was drawn in by the intriguing cover and requested the book on NetGalley.
It's a very interesting world Bonnie Calhoun has created for her Stone Braide Chronicles of which Thunder is the first part. There's quite a lot going on: an elite community living inside a mountain, a mysterious people living across the sea and 'ordinary' people living among the ruins of what once where great American cities. Like many other dystopian novels there's a mixture of old, rustic and more futuristc technology, such as the library filled with books on little glass spheres. There's also a little bit of fantasy mixed in, if that is the word to use, with the supernatural abilities that the Landers have. Overall, a good backdrop for a heroic dystopian story.
Unfortunately, I wasn't completely convinced by the story and the characters. I couldn't connect to the heroine Selah and didn't see much character development in her over the course of this book. The choices she made felt very naive to me and the development of her relationship with Bodhi went way too fast. I also didn't feel like I got to know the 'bad guys' good enough to know understand their motives.
Ofcourse this is the first book in what I believe will be a trilogy, so it's no wonder not everything is clear in this book. There is also a free prequel novella, so maybe I should have read that. Still, I defintely felt too little information was given to guide the reader along. Often while reading Thunder I would be confused as I knew so little about the Landers and the world Selah lived in. A few strategic bits of information would have given me more ground to appreciate the story.
I wasn't too impressed by the writing of this book either. It was rather clunky with too much dialogue sometimes, especially in the midst of a gripping action scene. Another personal pet peeve of mine was the very unrealistic descriptions of science. Ofcourse, I understand science can be fantastic in a dystopian novel, but being a scientist myself, I was annoyed by the lightning speed with which discoveries were being made and applied. I have read other YA and 'sci-fi' novels in which science, even though it was futuristic was described more realistically, for example in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles.
All in all, the story idea and the world building of Thunder are quite good and the book hàs made me curious as to what will happen in the coming parts of this trilogy. But I don't think I enjoyed Thunder enough that I want to read the next books.
I received an ebook version of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher Revell in exchange for an honest review.