Author: Imran Siddiq
Title: Disconnect: Book One of the Divided Worlds Trilogy
Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy (YA)
‘Dirtying fingernails in sewers is fast approaching worthlessness for Zachary, a 16-year old Underworld scavenger. When footage of an Overworld girl, Rosa, is discovered, his intrigue heightens at why she expresses sadness with a lavish lifestyle.
In meeting Rosa, Zachary is scorned by her opinion of the deprived. She pities him and provides a means for them to communicate. With time, friendship and something he’s never felt grows; love for another human. Knowing Rosa calls him when it suits her isn’t enough; he wants to meet her, but how? Relationships in Underworld are few, let alone the impossibility with those above the ceiling.’
Back for this month’s book review and this month it’s YA. I don’t normally read much of this, but I have to admit that The Hunger Games really did open things up for me. Let’s go.
This cover is how Imran and I met in the first place. At the first Self Publishing Conference in 2013 (I think?) I went to a workshop on book covers. We had been asked before hand to send in examples and this was one of those that made my jaw drop. I loved it. It turned out that the chap it belonged to was sat right next to me! How about that. :p It’s taken me a long time to read the book since that day, but my love of the colour remains the same. Simple, elegant but powerful. I adore this cover.
Zachary lives in the Underworld and makes his way by scavenging for scraps dropped through the ceiling by resident of the Overworld. All is good and right with his life until a drop through the ceiling leads him to find a piece of tech that allows him to communicate with a young girl from Overworld. Rosa. Cue madness as he slowly falls for her and (to some degree) what she represents as the world around them quickly and violently changes.
Romeo and Juliet in space was my first thought when I started reading. My next thought was that I wanted more to happen. The set up of Zachary’s homelife was very much necessary to give weight to what follows but it went on slightly too long for me. Also, from a personal perspective, I would have liked to know more about Rosa. Though I suppose this would have taken some of the edge of later chapters where her past is revealed.
Things moved very swiftly about a quarter of the way into the tale. Before this point, Zachary kinda mulls his way around doing what he always does.
Despite that, the story is (very!) clever, involved and strong enough to make up for the slightly slow start. By the time you reach the half way point you’re almost panting for breath along with Zachary and it doesn’t let up after that. What I find most impressive that the story manages to do that without getting too breathless at any point. Pretty skilled if you ask me.
There’s quite an ensemble to this novel so I’ll just focus on the main two characters.
Zachary Conner. The Hero. Reluctant hero, yes, but aren’t most of the best ones exactly that? He goes from simply getting on, getting by, to actually forcefully moving things to get what he wants. It’s a slick example of character development and you don’t really see it happen. You just accept that he has come from one place, seen terrible things and come out on the other side doing things you might never have imagined in the opening chapters. And that’s as it should be.
Rosa Kade. The Damsel In Mild Distress. Rosa has a clear and attractive voice. She’s playful and sombre all at once, a mix that is all the more powerful at the end of the novel. She has just the right amount of snark for a teenager and just enough maturity for someone of her social status that she feels very real to me.
Curious phrases every now and then. Colourful verb choices and a dash of unusual sentence structure that forced me to re-read a line once or twice. But none of that took from the strengths of the book. Let’s just say I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed a YA fantasy which, really, should (and could) be classed more as YA sci-fi romance.
Throughout the entire novel I found instance where I thought a word might be missing, otherwise the formatting is super-clean and so is the proofing. No complaints from me.
Average across all scores 4.375 with rounds out into 4.5 stars.
I will be looking into the rest of the trilogy. When I first started reading I wasn’t sure that was the case but by the end I changed my mind. I need to see what happens to Zachary after all that he’s been through. I’m with him now. I’m on his side.