Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: A Nothing Named Silas by Steve Westover

A Nothing Named Silas
A Nothing Named Silas, by Steve Westover
2013, 304p, Dystopia
My Rating=5 stars
Source: Received copy from publisher for an honest review

You are here because the Citizens put you here to serve them and because the Regents choose to control your lives.

In the not-so-distant future, workers are forcibly drafted into their fields. With all their choices made for them, the workers must do what they’re told or face severe consequences. When Labor chooses Silas, the tyrannical Labor Regent is determined to make him a public example of her complete control. He is humiliated, manipulated, and isolated during his first week under the Shield, and the people who show him kindness only help him because they have ulterior motives.

But the Regent is not the only one pulling Silas’s strings. The mysterious Gideon wants to mold him into a hero, a champion of the oppressed people. And a strange girl seems to be guiding him to find out more about the Citizens they serve. Through it all, no one bothers to ask Silas what he wants to do. Because, after all, he doesn’t have any rights. He doesn’t really exist.

Wade through twisted government conspiracies and deeply buried secrets alongside Silas as he learns to choose for himself—and discovers the cost of freedom.

We first meet Silas as he's starting a foot race. His father reminds him how important this is since the Regents are watching and the draft is tomorrow and there is no second place. Silas isn't too concerned because he knows he'll win. The race doesn't go as planned, though, and he doesn't get first place, but still does well. However, he's stunned when he's picked last by Labor instead of picked first by Command, which is hard because he's trained his whole life to be in Command. 

We learn more about this world. They're divided into different Divisions to make them efficient and they live under Shields to keep them safe. He has to leave his father and brother and travels to the Labor Shield with Regent Taelori. She's nice to him until they get to the Labor Shield, at which point she decides to make an example of him and he's subject to lots of unpleasantness and confusion at what's happening. He's offered help and is grateful but he's not sure who he can trust. 

As time goes on, he learns more about Labor Shield and meets people willing to help him, but is surprised when he finds out their identities. When he learns the truth about who he is and why he's there, his world starts to unravel and he goes looking for answers.

Wow! This is an intense, interesting book and a fantastic beginning to a new dystopian series! I enjoyed the world building and the characters. There's so much to each of them that it's hard to tell what their motivation truly is or what exactly is going on. The only person I could fully trust was Silas. And when Silas found out who he really is, I was stunned (and believe I gasped out loud), and then the book title made total sense. At that point, too, the plot sped up and this book was even harder to put down.

Silas does a lot of observing and I usually like lots of dialog, but found myself engrossed in what he was seeing and learning. Even though he grew up around there, he wasn't familiar with the Labor Shield at all and had to learn new rules, meet new people, and find where he fit in the scheme of things.

This book isn't a light, easy read. It's complex, with twists and turns, conspiracies, betrayal and mistreatment with a graphic scene towards the end. And the ending definitely left me wanting to start book 2 right away. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it! Mr. Westover's other books look good, too and I look forward to reading more of his work!

Steve Westover lives in a small Midwestern town with his wife and four kids. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Political Science and currently works in banking.
Steve also has a middle-grade fantasy series with two books released to date: Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island (March 2012) and Crater Lake: Return of the Mystic Gray (Apr. 2013). Steve has also published two FBI thrillers: Defensive Tactics (Aug. 2010) and the sequel, Gold Clash (Dec. 2012).


Taylor Dean said...

Great review, Melanie! You make me want to read the book! Now I want to know who Silas really is!

Melanie said...

Yay! That's what I was going for. To clarify, it's not unique to him but he's determined to get answers--I'll need to amend my review to make that more clear.

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