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Jay Michael Jones
on Dec. 31, 2012 :
This excellent sequel to Pandora's Genes continues the exploits of the heroic warrior Zach, his charismatic brother Will known as the Principal and leader of the surrounding territory, and the beautiful learned girl they both love, Evvy. The breakdown of society has left the world with little pockets of civilization such as the one Will rules. Machinery and knowledge are rare and misunderstood, and mutations caused by pre-event experimentation threaten the future. The book starts off with a bang as Will and Evvy's wedding ceremony is attacked and Evvy is stolen away by religious zealots known as Traders. Will is badly injured and Zach sets out to get her back. From there the story splits and each of the three deal with his or her own problems.
Lance explores the sociological aspects of this post-apocalyptic world in a realistic way, artfully portraying both the positives and negatives of the different factions. The scientific community of the Principal is ruled through logic, hard-won research and tough rules, but the seamy underside that is a part of any society is revealed proving nothing is perfect. While the religious zealots are obviously the antagonists, they are not simply cardboard enemies propped up only by the plot. There are reasons the religious Traders fear science and knowledge, and these reasons are explained in a very realistic, plausible way. Like human nature itself, it is possible to be sympathetic and repulsed by a character at the same time, and Lance shows us how it's done.
When a third group appears called the Road Men, we are suddenly reminded of the wider world of which this story is only a piece, the unknown on the horizon. The Principal now faces a larger threat to his community even as he faces ongoing personal peril. Will's search for Evvy is stymied by foul men and foul creatures alike, and Evvy fights for her very life against zealots who would sacrifice her to their God. All these exciting story lines are braided together quite satisfactorily in the end, but I am surprised there is no third book. There is still a fascinating world to explore, a fantastic setting with intriguing characters.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)