REVIEW: Sunset Rising by S.M. McEachern

Please see update at end of review.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction, Pages: 358, Level: Easy

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“Sunset Rising” is a young adult dystopian novel. The story follows 17 year old Sunny O’Donnell and her accidental husband Jack Kenner as they escape charges of treason and attempt to lead a revolt against their tyrannical President. The story is set inside a Bio-Dome several hundred years after a nuclear holocaust has devastated the earth. It is book one of a series.

In anticipation of a nuclear apocalypse, a dome is built in the Appalachian Mountains, designed to sustain human life until the world heals. However the dome was only built for so many. When civilians showed up, they were permitted in the dome under strict conditions- they were to live in the mine pits, become slaves to those above in the dome and executed at age 35 in an attempt to maintain a manageable population.

Fast forward almost 300 years- Sunny just lost her mother to the mandatory execution, her father will soon face the same and Sunny is considering marriage to her best friend. After arriving late at work, she is sent up to the dome to ‘entertain’ guests at a bachelor party. In an odd turn of events, she runs into the President’s daughter, who is to marry the next President. Leisel is worried about threats made to her life and convinces Sunny to stand in at her wedding. Unfortunately, Sunny is betrayed, ends up actually married to Jack, becomes wanted for treason and somehow helps spark the beginning of a revolution.

This is a really good story. McEachern carefully sets up both societies, although we do get more details about the Pit. It is interesting to read about the harsh conditions of their everyday life- how they are brutally beat for minor infractions, eat the leftover food from the dome, perform the undesirable work for those in the dome, etc. Those who live in the Pit, referred to as urchins, are considered inferior, undeserving of respect. They must have permission to have children, the necessities of life are rationed based on work performance, and they have no human rights and may be treated as badly as any domer wishes.

When Sunny goes up to the Dome, the reader will get a view of how those above live. It is quite a contrast. The politics of the Dome is intriguing and ends up playing a significant role.

I really liked Jack- fiancé of the President’s daughter and himself, the future President. I admit I had a harder time liking Sunny. There were a couple of points in the plot I personally felt came a little too easy or were a bit convenient. And there were a lot of editing issues- obviously not the author’s fault. I would normally not comment on that or rate down because of it, unless it interrupted my reading. Unfortunately, on several occasions it did. I know the author is in the process of fixing those problems so I don’t think that will be an issue for future readers.

Finally, despite the oppressive environment, there are some humorous parts in the story. I would quote them but due to the nature of the quotes, they would end up being spoilers and I don’t like to include spoilers in my review. Suffice it to say that twice, I actually laughed out loud and that is always a plus.

As always, I rate a book based on whether or not I enjoyed it. I enjoyed Sunset Rising. I actually stayed up until almost midnight on a couple of occasions because I did not want to stop reading. That’s a good sign and I have no doubt future books will be even better. For me, the true test is whether or not I even want to bother reading the next book… and I do. I definitely recommend Sunset Rising.

Reviewed by Christina

Update 5/5/2013: I upgraded the rating to four stars because the editing issues I addressed have been corrected. In the interests of full disclosure- I originally emailed the author and offered to send her a list of typos I found and she accepted. We continued to correspond and when she decided to do one last big edit and re-release, I proofread for her. My name now appears in Sunset Rising as proofreader.

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Purchase at:

amazon2  barnesandnoble3  kobosmashwords

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