Sixteen-year-old Sulan Hom can’t remember life before the Default—the day the United States government declared bankruptcy. As a math prodigy, she leads a protected life, kept safe from the hunger and crime plaguing the streets of America. She attends the corporate-sponsored Virtual High School, an academy in Vex (Virtual Experience) for gifted children.I have to start by saying, I thoroughly enjoyed Sulan. And I admit, I was a tiny bit hesitant to start, because I am currently in a hardcore Contemporary Realistic Fiction phase. But my hesitation hit the road as soon as I started reading.
Beyond the security of Sulan’s high-tech world, the Anti-American League wages a guerrilla war against the United States. Their leader, Imugi, is dedicated to undermining the nation’s reconstruction attempts. He attacks anything considered a national resource, including corporations, food storage facilities—and schools. When Sulan witnesses the public execution of a teenage student and the bombing of a college dorm, she panics.
Her mother, a retired mercenary, refuses to teach her how to defend herself. Sulan takes matters into her own hands. With the help of her hacker best friend, Hank, Sulan acquires Touch—an illegal Vex technology that allows her to share the physical experience of her avatar. With Touch, Sulan defies her mother and trains herself to fight. When Imugi unleashes a new attack on the United States, Sulan finds herself caught in his net. Will her Vex training be enough to help her survive and escape?
My favorite aspect to the story was the phenomenal world-building by author Camille Picot. A lot of similar books that I've read (Legend by Marie Lu) fell short in that area. In Sulan, all the bases are covered. We learn what exactly brought the downfall of the United States. How it has affected the people. What they do to adapt and survive. All of the details, dealt without seeming like a massive info dump, pulled me into the story.
I will be the first to admit, I'm not much of a "tech person". If I hear/see phrases such as "port", "firewall", "capacitor", chances are my brain fogs over. It's just not my thing. But, despite my lack of tech-love, I did really enjoy the virtual world that is incorporated into Sulan. The Vex (Virtual Experience) was imaginative and fun.
So yes, I did enjoy the story. But my favorite aspect, hands down, is the characters. Sulan is a role model. She's brilliant, loyal, determined, and brave. The girl is a mathematical genius, and she uses it to her advantage. She wants to be a warrior, and is willing to fight and do whatever it takes to get there. But her brain is her biggest asset, and she uses it to her advantage. I sort of cheered when Sulan did a mental calculation to determine the best angle to aim her bullets. Gotta love that!
Sulan isn't the only character to love, though it's her story. There's her best friend Hank, funny and equally as awesome. Billy, a classmate who knows how to score all the best weapons. And then there's Taro and Gun, both of whom Sulan learns to partner with and care for. The story never becomes a romance, but the chemistry is there between Sulan and the two. I can't wait to see what, if anything, happens in the future.
I found author Camille Picot's writing to be smart, engaging, and well-paced. I never found myself stumped by awkward phrases or dialogue. Each scene served to help move the story forward. I am looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.
"I am not going to be the girl with a hole in her head, or the girl with a bomb in her bed.
I am going to be the girl with the gun." (ebook, 10%)
"You can't pack a bunch of geniuses into a small space, piss them off, then not expect them to do anything about it." (ebook, 42%)
Published June 2012 by Pixiu Press
You can purchase Sulan, Episode 1: The League at:
Amazon (FREE UNTIL 8-20!!) | Barnes & Noble
Every book I voluntarily selected as a child was speculative fiction. The closest I ever came to finding a character with whom I could racially relate to was in the form of a half elven, half human warrior. He straddled two cultures and two worlds, never really fitting into either. This character so reflected what I had experienced that I felt an instant connection with him. He was called "half-breed" by some of the other characters. I was thrilled with the term. In my mind, this described me perfectly--I was half-and-half, just like this character. I remember the day I proudly walked into the kitchen and told my mother I was a half-breed. I thought I had discovered something insightful about myself, a label that made sense. My horrified mother had to sit down and explain to me that half-breed was a derogatory term, not something I should use when talking about myself. The sad part is that in all the thousands of pages I devoured as a young reader, there were no characters like me. I never encountered an Asian or part-Asian character. Likewise, the settings and magical creatures I encountered were always based on Western history and Western mythology. In 2008, I decided to do what I could to change the racial and cultural landscape of science fiction and fantasy. I founded Pixiu Press and began to publish my works, all of which star characters of Asian descent and/or mixed race. Asian myth and/or legends, as well as Asian-themed settings, are also often incorporated. I strive to publish books with characters and settings that I was never able to find as a young reader. (from pixiupress.com
Connect with Camille at:
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Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review.