Blog Book Tour | “Dream of the Navigator” (Book One: #FarawaySaga) by Stephen Zimmer #JorieReads her 8th #Dystopian story and has a surprise to share with her readers!

Posted Wednesday, 15 August, 2018 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on the “Dream of the Navigator” blog tour from Seventh Star Press. The tour is hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media who does the publicity and blog tours for Seventh Star Press and other Indie and/or Self Published authors. I am a regular blog tour host with Tomorrow Comes Media and whilst I haven’t read all of Mr Zimmer’s collective works, I did previously enjoy his anthology collection of shorts out of one of his universe’s of interest: Ave. I have oft contemplated whether or not I could find a niche of interest in Dystopian stories and this one felt uniquely different and I decided to give it a go! This is interesting because the first time I read one of his stories I was a 1st Year Book Blogger and as I am celebrating my 5th Blog Birthday (this August), I am reading my second story of Zimmer’s.

I received a complimentary copy of “Dream of the Navigator” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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A bit of a reflective look at Jorie’s views on Dystopian Lit:

I must confess, I have been avoiding reading books that fall under this sub-heading across all genres for such a long time because I still have issues with certain books I read whilst in school! Writers like Steinbeck and Orwell did not paint my future well for appreciating Dystopian stories! Nor did I feel very inclined to read them on my own inclination due to the heavy amount of violence and dark undertones that seemed to be all the rage inside the stories that were being produced for the genre overall. Which is why I decided to undertake this challenge (originally) during SFN (Sci-Fi November aka #RRSciFiMonth). To approach the genre as a skeptic, but perhaps emerge after a month of readings as an appreciator?

This is how I began an essay about why I’ve been a reluctant reader of Dystopian Lit for the entirety of my reading life! I had meant to pull the stories off the mini-list of #mustreads I had pooled together that particular year – though as luck would have had it, something derailed my efforts and I hadn’t quite accomplished what I had set out to do! This was my 1st year as a Book Blogger and my first foray as a participant into the now infamous phenomenon knowing as Sci-Fi Month and/or Sci Fi November which was happily founded by Rinn of Rinn Reads (she’s since moved on to co-blogging).

A note on ‘dystopian’ literature:

Being that I am not as well versed in this particular genre, my understanding of its place in literature and the key components that make it vital to be read, will evolve as I seek out more titles to read. However, I started to expound on what I am reading through The Boxcar Baby, and have drawn one curious conclusion: dystopian stories have the tendency to bring out the warts of our exterior worlds and environments, and seek to convey a critical thought or forewarning that would then, either indirectly or directly shift the perspective of those who can bring about the most change in our own lives. Its a method of story-telling to bring to the readers’ attention certain aspects of modern life that are effectively in need of change OR give a cautionary tale of ‘what could be’ if humans do not tread lightly on a path that could lead them to a future of ill-regret. Again, I could be completely mistaken, but this is a newcomer’s perspective of what the genre is seeking to reveal and assert. To put it another way, one must endeavour to walk through a desolate and despairing dystopia in order to emerge into a utopia of balanced proportion.

-quoted from my review of The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill

(2013, September) | 1st Year Book Blogger

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My Dystopian Reads:

The Boxcar Baby (Steel Roots, Book One) by J.L. Mulvihill

Moments in Millennia: A Fantasy Anthology (edited) by Penny Freeman

→ My favourite short of course was ‘Time out of Mind’ by Michael Cross

The Lazarus Game by Stephen J. Valentine (DNF)

An Uncommon Blue (Blue series, Book One) by R.C. Hancock (DNF)

The Path (Tag series, Book One) by Peter Riva (DNF)

Watcher (Watcher series, Book One) by AJ Eversley*

Carbon (Watcher series, Book Two) by AJ Eversley (DNF)

*NOTE: Eversley’s series in [2017] was my ill-fated attempt to re-address a curiosity of mine about Dystopian Lit and to see if I could finally find a singular author who could not only entice me into their world-building but give me the kind of Dystopian story I was seeking.

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As you can see, Zimmer’s Dream of the Navigator is my eighth attempt at reading Dystopian narratives over the score of the five years I’ve been a book blogger! I started reading this particular one *after!* my fifth blog’s birthday (6th of August, 2018) – marking it officially the one story I felt in five years which would become the ‘exception to the rule’ and the kind of Dystopian story I’ve been seeking all these years whilst wandering round a genre which has failed to garnish my full heart & appreciation!

There have been keen moments of where I’ve tucked inside a writer’s vision for their world-building which has befit what I felt would resound well as a ‘Dystopian Futuristic impression’ of where any particular world could be cast afield to such a such a time in ‘the future’ of where certain attributes of its society led it down a particular path and thereby led to a certain outcome. You can see this in the motion pictures “Wall-E” (one of the best representations of a society that is too ‘connected’ to see the truth in the pudding round them!) and “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” (where the sole pursuit of ‘life’ is found in a decidedly ‘altered’ future). Ironically, finding those films seemed to be an easier pursuit than finding a writer who knew how to write a Dystopian world which not only had the chops to hold my attention but to write a sophisticated narrative which has teeth to stand out from the pack!Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

And, then there was that particular infamous (in my mind) #SciFiExperience where I was wicked excited about reading Kate Elliott’s Icepunk series (Spiritwalker) whilst contemplating her ‘Court of Fives’ novel. I am still curious about these stories – I had to table my goals that year as well. There have been a lot of ups/downs over the years in my reading life & endeavours but occasionally when the stars aligned, I was able to read a few Dystopians despite the angst of having to postpone the other reads I was most curious to explore!

I drew together further insights into why I have this love/hate relationship with Dystopian Lit when I tried to settle into the first installment of the Blue series by Mr Hancock.

I think the main issue I find with Dystopian Lit is the fact everything is a bit cock-eyed; meaning, where you can observe what is wrong it isn’t enough to evoke change; you have to prove change needs to happen and oft-times that means putting your own life at risk. There is a clear wave of bullying between the different caste systems in the story, and the boy who caused Bruno to become painted is the classic bully whose connections protect him yet he is allowed to manipulate events without consequences. Bruno starts to unravell the underpinning principles of his world, whilst noting not everything on the Blue side is effectively the same elsewhere. For the Greens and those whose fire are reflective of blended hues (which points to the fact they ‘painted’ or blended their fire with someone else; either by force or compliant) getting through their lives is not quite the same as what Bruno had whilst he was a purebred Blue. The Blues are more elite in this world, as they are given opportunities the others are not privy to receiving themselves; even if by opportunity they are controlled. There is an imbalance between individual freedoms and the internal workings of the government who seek to control every aspect of their choices and how they act on their free will can determine their fates.

It wasn’t the writing that bothered me it was the structure of the story itself and how powerless everyone in Telesphore City truly were as perception on events trumped the truth of them; reducing any ability for justice. As I turnt around in my mind everything I had read up until this point, I realised why I struggle so much with Dystopian Lit and why I have been the last to admit it simply might not be for me at all. Its the disparity of it all. The overwhelming anguish of having the world painted black (here this refers to an intense thickening of darkness not a coloured variant of a word) to the brink where the light has barely any wick to shine. This is what bothers me a bit about Young Adult novels in general, but in regards specifically to Dystopian, I think I struggle with letting go of my optimistic spirit whilst I am reading them.

I love conflict and adversity in the books I am reading, but when it comes to Dystopian story-lines, I find myself uncomfortably displaced and a quickening sense of how fast everything can change. It is a bit like trying to sort out where you’ve gone wrong with a map written in a language you do not speak. I have read two Dystopian novels now, wells, technically I read a portion of this one and I struggled to finish the other one (The Boxcar Baby), giving me pause for realising sometimes what your curious about isn’t always worth uncovering. I just cannot give my heart to Dystopian Lit no matter how much I try to think there is a writer or a story within these worlds that will appeal to me.

Hancock makes interesting choices to steer the reader away from using strong language as a method of expressing what is being felt during the height of intense emotional moments; yet he cleverly uses colour as a way to not only explain the world but how colour itself can express the darkest shades of emotion. He makes clear definitions between what is considered right, wrong, and questionable (the in-between) yet personally I struggle to tuck inside a story whose undercurrent of tone is backlit with such heaviness; which is becoming the way I can express Dystopian story-lines. The uneasiness quickened a bit whilst seeing how callous some of the characters were towards each other and how the guards in the story were equally so towards everyone.

Hancock I believe has given a strong presence for YA Dystopian Lit for those who understand how these worlds are underlit and written as a whole. For an outside perspective, I didn’t find it a good fit for me personally but those other book bloggers I am thinking of tonight (including the girls of “Oh the Books” who co-hosted Sci Fi November this year!), I think they might tuck inside this and enjoy what he gave to the genre. For me, I checked out when a boy was killed simply for helping his best friend get out of a locked down campus — the manner in which he was killed just wrecked me on a lot of levels and the unnecessary force was just too disturbing. In light of recent current events, I respect a need to show different points of view and a clarity of conscience but in the end, the novel just broke my heart once too many times.

– quoted from my review of An Uncommon Blue by R.C. Hancock

Where Hancock erred in keeping me rooted in his vision of his Dystopian world, Zimmer has excelled. The key differences of course is purpose & intent – there is an undertone which remains firmly oblique and darkening in Hancock’s world whereas there is a presence of Light & Hopefulness in Zimmer’s.

Moreso, I simply enjoyed the back-stories and the background of Zimmer’s Faraway Saga moreso than Hancock’s as to me, the world in which Hancock created would let down a lot of readers for how desolate it truly became. You never felt you could gain traction of change inside his world – everything was operating against rebellion and personal freedoms. Even the powers he conceived were at first uniquely interesting to observe but then, I felt he worked against that power and kept altering the potential outcome to something rather more nefarious than I was willing to see through.

A lot of the issues I had in ‘An Uncommon Blue’ were never observed in ‘Dream of the Navigator’ in fact, in many ways – I felt Zimmer’s series was built on a stronger foundation. He had a stronger vision for his world to where you never felt the world itself was ‘changing against it’s type’. He projected their motivations clearly and even the components of the structure and order of the world doesn’t alter from it’s own non-ethical protocols; they are what they are  – which is beneficial to feeling you can trust Zimmer’s world of being exactly as it represents itself without a wench in the wheel throwing you out of its dimension.

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Similar to my readings on behalf of Antiphony, Riva has begun his on discourse on society, technology, religion and our place inside the world itself – how we view our living reality and how our living reality is altered by what is never completely in our control. He has written a challenging text because like the other author, he wants you to ponder the deeper meanings and take the Tag series to an awareness of recognising what could be unnoticed right before our eyes. The only key difference between the two, is Antiphony was a pursuit to understand a higher plane of existence outside of our limited sensory understanding of ‘reality’ which broached spirituality and other ideals of thought. Within the Tag series, Riva has augmented a society removed from any religious or spiritual pursuits, as the controlling rule is specifically geared towards putting humanity through a vise and only allowing humans to live a life deemed beneficial to the whole rather than the limited few.

In other words, nothing about living is determined by the individual but is rather systematically fused to an ordering rule (i.e. the government in this case; of which I can only presume is similar to The Hunger Games world based on the notes my friends have given me on it’s behalf). I think it’s safe to say my preference is always to have a level of spirituality kept inside a world – even if the world is futuristic, I’m not a particular fan of dissolving all thoughts and beliefs of a higher power; hence why I never read Phillip Pullman’s series beginning with The Golden Compass.

-quoted from my review of The Path by Paul Riva

Spirituality and Metaphysics are aptly explored in Zimmer’s Faraway Saga but rather than removing the precepts of religious thought & belief completely – to where it no longer has a place of origin or purpose, Zimmer found a way to ask intellectually stimulating questions of his characters – to where he desires them to recapture their own free will of mind & thought – to let them make the choices on behalf of what they believe or don’t believe without those choices being made for them.

He also approaches the context of this section of his world with an open mind – he let’s his characters walk a muddled path towards self-enlightenment due to how their world has repressed a lot of knowledge & information for the sake of population control and a future disconnected from personal growth. They want their citizens to remain in stasis intellectually as that would allow them to rule over them without conflict or disagreement.

Of the two, I prefer the approach Zimmer took – as it allows the door to remain open – for his world, his characters and the reader who is approaching his Dystopian viewpoint(s).

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One thing I appreciate most about how Eversley has approached writing this novel is how she fuses bits and bobbles of what you can conceptionalise against what could be a living reality not too far forward into the future. It’s a unique balance – to insert readers into a world with a Dystopian bent and a world which brings up hard philosophical questions about humanity, the pursuit of living authentically and the greater purpose behind life itself or even the art of survival if things go dangerously wrong.

Eversley has tapped into a niche of Dystopian where you can play with the genre – you can add not only depth of the world through the layers in which we entreat inside it’s boundaries but by how this world is stitched together – from the origins of their beliefs (hinted at) to the constructs of how they believe their rights as sentient beings should be maintained (similar to us) whilst enlarging the scope to have a dual presence of foe against foe – each fighting for the right to be the champion and each not honestly seeing how they could bridge their differences (if that’s even a plausible possibility) as war takes it’s toll. It’s not just the losses of life – it’s the wear and tear on the psyche and on morale of those who are fighting everyday to live one more day towards the ‘end goal’. For the Carbons and the Watchers, they are each moving towards a collision of sorts – at least, from what I can gather – if this debut is the introduction into the Watchers as a collective, than the second novel in the series surely picks up the momentum begun here through the point-of-view of the Carbons; to give a buoyancy between good and evil or what is perceived as good vs evil. It could all be an experiment gone wrong – or rather, an experiment which outgrew it’s purpose and turnt into something else completely.

If anything, there is so much your thinking about – trying to root out Eversley’s motivating inspiration and uncovering what is driving the story forward whilst trying to respect the world and pull back it’s layers to see what is really being set for you to see.

-quoted from my review of Watcher by A.J. Eversley

You might be curious why I decided to take you back down this particular readerly rabbit hole – of why I felt it necessary to re-visit the past Dystopian Reads in order to better augment my reasons for preferring Zimmer’s vision for his own. The reason, dear hearts, is quite simple – if you didn’t fully understand where I had traversed in the past – through these worlds the prior seven story-tellers had crafted for me to find, you might not fully understand how hard it has been to seek out writers’ who are crafting the kinds of Dystopian stories I am seeking.

For the most part, there have been positives and negatives across the board – hence, why I chose to add the quotations and to re-empathsis what worked for me and what did not ahead of revealling my ruminative thoughts on behalf of ‘Dream of the Navigator’ which at first glimpse brought back memories of ‘Flight of the Navigator’ (a motion picture) – a personal favourite of my childhood. I am unsure if the title has any cogitation of reference to the film, however, it had one for me.

Despite being a particularly particular reader of specific genres and thematics of literature – I remain optimistic I can find a niche of interest even in the most unapproachable literary arenas I find rather arduous to step inside. This is why I’ve continuously tried to read different Dystopian works of literature – finding a few qualms overall (four DNFs out of eight is telling in its own right!) and yet, I haven’t reached the plateau of lost hope!

I also want to share – I reverted back to my days of being able to read ‘chapter samplers’ to decide it ‘Dream of the Navigator’ would be a good ‘fit’ for me – those were the days where I could read a whole chapter digitally ahead of sourcing a print copy to read in full – back before my clustering chronic migraines were not occupying so many dear hours of my life and wrecking a lot of readerly hours off the clock as well. Prior to requesting a place on this tour, I happily found a sampler for this novel wherein despite the limitations I have nowadays with digital samplers, I gleamed enough to ‘wish to turn the pages!’ and find out what was going to happen next!

This isn’t the reaction I was expecting – I thought it would take me a bit longer than mere paragraphs to feel attached to the story-line – after all, this was a *Dystopian world!* – though, I admit, my readings of Julie E. Czerneda’s #TheClanChronicles has opened my eyes to worlds on shaky ground and where disparity can threaten to overrule.

Of all the stories I read in the past within this genre – ‘Watcher’ was the closest I felt towards finding a writer who could write a Dystopian world in a manner of approach I could appreciate. There were issues of course after I read ‘Watcher’ – as the series had to go on without me as a reader, as there were key choices I felt which worked against the plotting established in the first book – but this time round – I felt much more confident about the Faraway Saga than I had with Watcher – and that simply boils down to individual choices on behalf of the story-crafters who gave them to us.

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On my connection to Stephen Zimmer:

Over the past five years, Mr Zimmer has given me a lot of opportunities to engage with Speculative Lit authors – both through my readings of their stories (by the blog tours he’s hosted via Tomorrow Comes Media or through Seventh Star Press directly) and by letting me visit the radio frequencies by guest appearances on the Star Chamber Show (a blogtalkradio podcast). In Autumn of [2013] Zimmer was one of the first publicity and blog touring companies to give me a chance at being a ‘tour hostess’ and I am quite grateful he added me to his Blogger Team! I have spent 5 years appreciating the journey into Speculative Fiction – deepening my understanding of the genre and of sourcing out the writers who are writing the stories I love to be reading!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Mr Zimmer through the twitterverse or whilst I host for Tomorrow Comes Media and Seventh Star Press and/or privately as well. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.

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Notation on Cover Art Design: As soon as I saw the cover art for this novel – the genre it resides started to shift in front of my eyes! I loved how much ‘light vs dark’ is playing in the design – how the splintered and mirrored images are playing off each other – whilst hinting towards ‘more’ – almost of a pinnacle to reach vs where the state of things currently lie. Even the rainbow (the symbol of hope) was aptly placed and the lush world ‘above’ counterbalances the darker shades of a technate driven world. I was beyond impressed!! I have long held the cover artists with Seventh Star Press in high esteem and this is another one which left me in ‘awe’ admiring it! Of course, the premise and the chapter sampler worked together to tempt me to read the chapters behind this art – but for the sake of art and illustration, this cover is wickedly impressive!!

Blog Book Tour | “Dream of the Navigator” (Book One: #FarawaySaga) by Stephen Zimmer #JorieReads her 8th #Dystopian story and has a surprise to share with her readers!Dream of the Navigator
Subtitle: Faraway Saga
by Stephen Zimmer
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Publisher via Tomorrow Comes Media

Cities have been replaced by technates. It is a world of soaring apartments, hundreds of stories high, where technology measures, monitors and rations to meet the needs of the greater populace. It is a world of drones, in the air and on the ground, and advanced robotic beings who carry out much of the harder labor, security, and even pleasure assignments.

Those discontent, or who resist, are taken to Rehabilitation Centers, established after the embrace of the Greater Good Doctrine.

For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence.

A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore.

What was once reality, now seems like an illusion in a deepening experience.

Begin the journey to Faraway, in Dream of the Navigator, the first book of the Faraway Saga!

Genres: Dystopian, Genre-bender, Sci-Fantasy, Science Fiction, Techno-Thriller, YA Contemporary, YA Dystopian Lit, YA Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1948042536

Also by this author: Chronicles of Ave: Vol.1, (Author Interview) The Chronicles of Ave, (Guest Post) The Chronicles of Ave, (3-part) Interview Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot

Published by Seventh Star Press

on 24th June, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 398

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Softcover and Ebook

Converse on Twitter: #FarawaySaga, #DreamOfTheNavigator & #7thStar

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What I previously loved about Stephen Zimmer’s style:

You get the firm sense that Zimmer is a voracious reader who dips into a bit of everything that yields to his personal curiosity and allows his mind to wander through the gate of his imagination to deposit into a reader’s hands a wholly encased world whose dimensions are ever expanding into larger scales of tales yet to be told! Except for the few shorts, where I think he opted instead for traditional heroic bloodshed story-telling! This might draw a close eye towards the fact he appreciates the horror genre, and bits of that seep into this side of his fantasy worlds. It’s his passion for research that I applaud first and foremost, as not every writer goes to the length as he does and I always celebrate a writer I find who carries out research on this level! Secondly, he endeavours you to amplify his words into motion by the words he uses to provoke a visual response, in which backs up something he said in an interview I heard of his (whilst researching which questions I wanted to ask him in my own interview!) where he acclaimed his novels are set to embody a motion picture medium rather than the printed world of the book! This is a claim he rightly deserves to make!

He is one of the writers that I would genuinely be delighted to seek out (if it had not been for Tomorrow Comes Media!), as he parlays his fervent passion for research by interspersing what he uncovers into the tapestry by which Ave is threaded against! It’s a world that encompasses as many distinctively unique cultures, traditions, spirituality’s, and languages as our own living counterpart, and yet, it has something to give back to us as well!

The care he takes to diminish the force of the violence inside by counter-balancing it with a life lesson is absolute genius, because your not as apt to focus on the brief encounters of evil, but rather, on the benefits of what each short attempts to draw out of the character he’s chosen to hone in on instead! These characters, I perceive to be secondary ones in the larger stories (novels), yet, they have a specific life-path in Ave that cross-sects with the intervening entities or events that bring about the most metamorphose of growth! You can use me as a barometer in knowing that if I can handle these stories, you can as well! I have an intolerance for violence, but I cherish the soulful stories such as these that grant the reader a ruminative conclusion of what they’ve read!

-as previously expressed on my review of Chronicles of Ave: Volume One

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About Stephen Zimmer

Stephen Zimmer

Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels and novellas (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), the Ragnar Stormbringer Tales (Sword and Sorcery), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

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my review of dream of the navigator:

The Prologue is quite brief – despite this, we feel dearly connected to Morgan and the fate in which she is dealt at the hands of her world. She is clued into an awareness few others are allowed to be enlightened yet there is a despairing somberness to her awareness as well. Knowing what she does, she also knows the risks of being awakened past the point of what is kosher in her world. There are rules here – stiff and strict, to the point where freedom of thought is one of the only rights one still has within a very limited set of perimeters which are not controlled by the governing state itself.

You have to wonder – what mistakes did Morgan make which tipped the scales against her and why is her awareness of something ‘other’ than the structured normalcy a threat against this world?

The life ahead of her largely determined, Haven knew she would never escape a llife spent in tenements and densely populated technates. Only those living in the Northern Sector, by accident of birth, escaped that kind of life; along with a select few athletes and entertainers who captivated the public and became successful.

For the rest of society, life did not have many options beyond virtual environments. Most things remained well-define; eating and drinking the things approved, traveling where permitted, using only the energy rationed, receiving he health treatments assigned, living in the spaces designated, and holding the views authorized.

– quoted from Dream of the Navigator by Stephen Zimmer;

used with permission of the publisher

Haven and Carlos are your average teenage delivery employees who wanted to earn a bit more than their designated allowances which set them apart from their peers. Of the two, Haven has the keen observation skills to recognise an experience out of the ordinary a bit faster than Carlos, who takes things more ‘ready at hand’ to be only what they appear. Therefore, after meeting someone who stands out from their societal views and regulations (ie. The Artist) Haven starts to internalise the meeting and realise her life isn’t quite on track to being a life she felt she ought to be living – yet how do you change your life or even alter its course if everything is pre-destined and planned straight down to what your allowed to purchase to eat? There isn’t leeway for individualism nor for personal dreams or goals – this is a society with a ruling class whose guidelines are law.

As we re-align into the footsteps of Jaelynn, we find a girl whose smitten by her boyfriend Gabriel, even if she fears for him most when he’s vocalising his discontent with the status quo as this is sentiment which can become ‘flagged’ as inappropriate or worse; for there world is a far cry from a society who has freedom of speech. They are heavily monitored wherever they go – from tracking software to recording devices and it wouldn’t surprise me if they have both voice print ID and facial recognition at the drop of pixel, too!

When we first met Jaelynn, she was frustrated due to the perimeters of her allotted credits – the currency of this world is heavily controlled, monitored and regulated. Independent wealth is discouraged, as much as independent means to be financially secure past the governing regulated dispense of ‘credit’ which is meant to carry you for a full month but rather makes the citizens of this world feel short-changed: both in options of what can be purchased and of spirit, as the harder they care controlled, the more ‘will’ of their free mind they lose, the more they risk erasure.

Jaelynn and Gabriel stand out rather immediately as they haven’t bought into the concept of being perpetually ‘plugged’ in to the hive so to speak. They like to take their offline moments to themselves, interacting in an old fashioned mannerism of real-time interface in person and in a place of their choosing. The rest of their peerage are too lost in the concept of what they foresee as their ‘reality’ rather than the reality of their plight is limited by what protocol and regulation will decree. Jaelynn and Gabriel are two of the enlightened ones of their age – seeing past the boundaries of their world, despite the constrictions and choosing to align their thoughts with each other in harmonic agreement that not everything ought to be as it seems.

Gabriel is a tinker – he loves to work with his hands, wrestle out technologic gadgets and turn something out of disconnected parts which is fully functional whereas his best friend Takeshi prefers the world of codes and programming. You can readily see why their friendship is a good match – their each on the opposite side of innovative Science!

Being YA, I was curious if Zimmer was going to approach a love interest for any of the lead characters – blessedly, we have a budding romance between Jaelynn and Gabriel. An authentic relationship built on mutual trust with a playfulness about their relationship despite the restraints they have against their personal freedoms. It shows how even without a lot of flexibility, you can find ways to connect to each other and disconnect from what disinterests you or find a way ‘forward’ without having to conform.

As Cayden made his entrance (as this is a story told through different perspectives, of youths each struggling to find their way through their world) I was curious what he would offer us to gleam from his point-of-perspective. His section was altogether different rather early-on, as instead of banning together with his peers, he’s unfortunately one of the ones his peers would rather pummel into the ground. There is a thread of bullying behaviour being mentioned here but blessedly isn’t overtly done. You get the gist of what is happen to Cayden without feeling the empathsis was more on the bullies rather than the bullied.

Cayden has a special role to play – as this is where there is a segue from the Science Fiction aspects of the story-line into the Fantasy – where the bending of the genre flexes it’s muscles morphing brilliantly into what I refer to as ‘Sci-Fantasy’ in a harmonic balance of the two inspirations. I love when your reading a seemingly straight-forward story, only to reach a turn in the path, a twist you hadn’t seen coming where the ‘world’ in which you’ve resided starts to shift or meltaway completely – giving you this alternative perspective of place and dimension. This is how it felt to move through Cayden’s opening passages – of seeing where his world and this ‘otherworld’ converge and enlighten.

Whilst getting to know the individual characters, I started to peer into the background of this world – little bits of recognition were observed throughout the novel. There are references to fringe sciences and high-tech innovations from today’s world meshed into the fabric of the Faraway Saga. In fact, even if you only have a cursory inventory of the ‘tech and mech’ of our world, you might be curiously surprised by how well in-line this narrative is with conversations which can be overheard on talk radio today (or in other mediums of interest). I surprised myself by how well I understood the key reference points – the nods of blending the familiar with the futuristic to where most of what would be considered ‘far-off’ and futuristic in this series isn’t as cunningly unknown ‘now’ for the reader whose kept their eyes open to technology, engineering, and emerging sciences.

Salvador had one of my favourite entrances for the characters, as he was placed ‘outside’ rather than ‘in’ – a metaphor in of itself for this story. Or rather, how you can be ‘out’ of yourself but ‘in’ the world at the same time. For Salvador, his instincts mirror a lot of his peers even though at this point in time, it is not readily known if he interacts with Haven, Carlos, Jaelynn, Gabriel, Takeshi or Cayden. All of them are living individually but I knew there was enough foreshadowing to realise their paths were going to start to cross, intersect and perhaps alter everything they understood about life and their world.

It is an especially large cast – however, I didn’t find this off-putting because of how much time we were given to get to know the teenagers. They each have such a well-rounding of their development, you honestly felt as if they were telling you their stories themselves! They felt real and dimensional, giving you a chance to see this world through younger eyes whilst rooting for them all the same to continue to find ways to subvert the path they were being forced to endure. There is a rallying of revolution – quietly being whispered throughout the text with a purposeful intent of shattering the glossy false impression of this quasi-Utopian world view. It is interesting on many fronts because for a Dystopian to work in my mind, you have to anchour it against the supposition of how a world could function without strife or adversity. Even if that presumption is wrong, the Dystopian would work if counter to the presumed logic of its world, things are better without the oversight and overrule; where freedom of self, mind and the liberties innate to all are best to remain protected. Therein lies the beauty of what is being disclosed and set into balance within the pages of Dream of the Navigator.

Ever since Haven met the Artist – her mind and heart is conjuring all kinds of thoughts about her life, her world and the purpose of it all. She’s in direct conflict of agreeing to the path she’s taking when she’s become ‘open’ to the possibilities outside it. No longer convinced of the right order of things, she longs to know ‘more’ and to ‘see’ more of what is really ‘there’ rather than what is prescribed as being ‘the reality of their era’ as dictated through their virtual environments. It is a rather telling discovery of self – of first feeling convinced you have no right to stand against the tides of where your life is being pushed forward and the enlightening realities of realising – your mind is your own. Your thoughts are your own and you can choose what you think or feel as much as your reactions to your individual experiences.

There is a sequence about medical science becoming a bit more invasive to personal privacy and taking away the freedom of an individual to make their own choices in regards to their own medical wellness – this felt fitting, as ever since I saw the art house film The Circle (starring Emma Watson) I’ve been especially clued into how Nanotechnology is altering our impression about medical oversight and controlling our bodies on a fundamental level of insight. If you’ve seen the film, you will automatically understand more about these passages of thought as the whole context of the film has bearing on Dream of the Navigator!

“I’m not listening to the sound of the wind,” Jade said. “I’m listening to the tree itself. And this particular tree has much to say. It has witnessed quite a lot over the years, having been here long before the current age came into existence.”

“The tree… it speaks?” Salvador asked, with an incredulous air.

“Hard to believe for most folks these days, I know, but it is true.” Jade answered. “Just because most people choose not to believe something doesn’t mean it isn’t true or can’t be true.” That’s something I hope you learn soon… for your own sake.”

– quoted from Dream of the Navigator by Stephen Zimmer;

used with permission of the publisher

Being a nature walker whose a self-directed learner of photography focusing on wildlife and natural habitats, this conversation between Jade and Salvador hit home. Mostly, as the longer you spend time out in the natural world, the more heightened your senses are to ‘everything’. Trees do speak, but you have to be ‘still’ and quiet. You have to take time to sit near them and be open to what might become revealled after your visitations. It isn’t a new concept to me but it might be for those who are not able to spend as much time in the natural world.

Something I never tired of observing is how the marsh rabbits would only tuck themselves out of their ‘hidden’ habitats behind the brush of overgrowth by the water’s shores is when they instinctively knew whom to trust on the trails. If you were keen to watch their behaviours – the cyclists who hoarded the paths and the larger than life conversationalists who were clueless to their whereabouts overall never saw the dear hearted rabbits! They didn’t let themselves be ‘seen’ to those who would dismiss them – and trust me, many people dismiss nature by default (I’ve met plenty of are turned away from being connected to nature). The rabbits would happily hop out and nosh on grass in front of you – letting you see their young, visit with them and share the same airspace. They were joyfully cheerful and rather cheeky – like cats, at times, as they had an innate playfulness about them.

You can cross-apply this to trees – to whom will a tree speak if the ears of the hearer are turnt off?

This was one of my favourite passages of the novel – even though, in truth, I could have pulled out several quotations – I especially liked how this novel was written as it tucked into the truths hidden just out of sight in our modern world. The kind of truths which speak to something ‘more than’ the pursuit of wealth or industry – it speaks to a higher intention of purposeful living and of seeking something worth holding onto outside of our experience. To live with awareness and of remaining interconnected to the natural world to where our humanity isn’t living on isolated islands outside of the Earth we walk upon – sometimes you have to go back to the beginning in order to understand the future.

It shouldn’t have surprised me but it had – in such an extremely controlled environment it would make sense any deviant of thought or expression outside the protocols in place would be deemed dangerous. Therefore, the plight fated to Cayden’s sister Melanie shouldn’t have taken me off-guard but it did in a way. Moreso, to the point, I was as dearly curious about her whereabouts as I was of Morgan. There was something rather insidious happening just beyond the framework model of this technate world – something being hinted of but not outwardly seen.

More interesting of course, are the Guardians – they appear rather randomly, intersecting with each of the main characters at different intervals. They come in different forms and species – trying to get the information to those who are most open to receive it and in effect, cause an insurrection of sorts to where the teenagers of this world can start to lead the change ‘away’ from the present overruling into a path towards truer freedom; such as the kind from the ancient past, or what they perceive as such. There is a separation from the ‘older times’ and the ‘now’ – of realising how altered this world has become from whence it originated is not lost on the teens. What is more radical is how they each are finding themselves awakening to the truths blurred and hidden from everyone else. It seems fitting they would be chosen – as rather than becoming jaded against lost hope, they have an instinctive nature to keep themselves open to what is plausibly possible. They haven’t forgotten how to dream but to dream for them is a concept as radical as personal farming allotments!

The layers of our dreams and the insights of our dreamscapes is what funnels our creativity and our natural understandings of what we experience, as everything can become re-impressioned in a dream in such a way as to re-examine what is felt to be ‘true’. This is one of the key components of Dream of the Navigator without giving too much away – it is definitely a saga which explores the waking world and the imagined one whilst we’re asleep but also, it dives a bit deeper than those factual realities as well. For how dimensional can you experience an unconscious state whilst still keeping aware enough to understand what is experienced? The possibilities of course are limitless!

The closer Jaelynn draws to the truths of her world, the more frustrated she becomes, whereas Salvador is growing empowered by the efforts of Jade to re-construct how he understands the constraints of a controlled society. Each of the teens in the story are being re-enlightened towards expanding their conceptional understanding – a re-education of sorts of information which was once freely given and has now become suppressed. Their Guardians are seeking them out on purpose but their free will is still in place – they have to choose the paths they are taking, the truths they’re willing to accept and the burdens of all of this will place on their lives.

Conceptionally – I love the will of the Guardians who each have their own talents and mandates. As you move towards the heart of the Faraway Saga, you start to see the different roles the Guardians have and how they are separated by those talents. They each have a distinct role to affect (or rather offer) change to the teens who are ready for a fight they never knew they could win. As you continue to pull back the layers, you start to see how expansive this world really is and how sequestered the inhabitants have become out of forced ignorance. They gave consent in small fractions of their freedoms to where by the time they were left redundant and discarded, they hadn’t realised what their initial choices had caused them. This is where the series takes a lot of turns towards opening the eyes of the reader and the characters towards how a world can self-implode if it allows itself to be controlled against its natural will.

Visually the passages involving the Navigator are illuminating! You really can feel the joy of how these teens are experiencing so many wildly vibrant moments they never felt they could feel before their lives started to involve Guardians. The Guardians themselves even seem to be rejuvenated by the adaptive mannerisms of the teens, as together they are standing against what afflicts free will and freedom.

Zimmer truly captured my attention – including by inclusively adding a dash of Greek Mythology into the centre of the saga! If your familiar with Chronos, your in for a special treat! I especially enjoyed how clean this Dystopian was written, how alarmingly dramatic the arc of the novel becomes and how seemingly uncontrollable the technate world feels to those who are tired of living a half life in the shadows of their upper class. There are power struggles galore but not in the traditional sense of what your expecting – there are those difficulties as well, but there is much more behind this series than what is represented on the surface. If anything, I am hoping the second novel is about the disclosures of who the Voyagers are as I now firmly understand the purpose of the Navigators!

An Epistolary turn within a Dystopian:

One of my favourite segues in Historical Fiction are the Epistolary narratives – writers are getting much more inventive right now with how a novel can become ‘Epistolary’ and Zimmer has added his story to the discussion, as there was a delightful honesty about how he inserted his Epistolary elements into the backbone of the Faraway Saga! At least, at this junction point – those clever (at times cheeky!) additions were rather brilliant as it bespeaks to the underlying issues which plague his world. This was a singular act of rebellion in a tightly controlled niche of the universe and it was rather ingenious how well it ‘fit in’ with the direction of the plot! Then again, simplicity can outsmart impossibilities any day of the week!

A Change in Book Format, Layout and Internal Design:

A lovely thing to note is the paper is creame with an easier to read font – something my fatigued eyes are thankful for as it’s easier to read if you have migraines or if your eyes are tired for other reasons. Very gentle to read and I find myself able to read it a bit quicker as my eyes don’t feel as exhausted overall. It surprised me when I opened the novel, as the main reasons I’ve been reading #LoveINSPIRED Suspense novels the past month and a half is due to the nature of needing to take ‘time away’ from traditional print books – due to the miniature aspects of typography! The Suspense novels are blessedly ‘Larger Print’ and allow me to transition into them with an ease that takes a bit longer in regular print releases. This is part of my augmentation of switching how I read – fuelling my bookish life with a better balance of print, audio reads and larger text stories.

I was overjoyed Seventh Star Press altered the interior design of this release and made reading the story quite the delightfully lovely experience for a girl whose eyes thank them dearly!

If I can be so bold:

Of all the stories I’ve read in Speculative Fiction, this is one I would earmark for narration with an ensemble cast who could bring to life the multi-cast with a brilliant shine of recognition! Listening to audiobooks, I sometimes toy with the curious notion of which stories in print would I love to see re-emerge one day as an #AudioRead? This one surely moves close to the top of my book to audio list! I think it would be rather brilliant if a full cast narrated the story with a soundscape to match their performances. Readers can dream,.. eh?

On the dystopian writing style of Stephen zimmer:

The most immediate impression I felt whilst reading Dream of the Navigator is how accessible this text is for any reader who picks it up to read! I didn’t quite understand the promotional clues left behind for this series as being ‘Orwellian’ nor ‘Brave New World’ (the former I’m not a fan, the latter I never read) but I held out hope I’d spot a few Narnian references based off the two films (The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) which through their adaptations gave me more keen insight into C.S. Lewis than his novels (of which for me were DNFs).

As previously mentioned, it was my readings of the world of the Clan (within #theclanchronicles) I found an unexpected understanding and connection to the technates of Zimmer’s world. Whilst I also noted he found clever ways to re-insert the notion, concept and allure of the unknown by what ‘faraway’ would mean to his characters – as each in turn, found a way to say this term aloud and in their own unique interpretations – they each gave a different meaning to how one singular word can be re-impressioned per each person who hears it or says it for themselves.

I think the key reasons I felt ‘attached’ to this particular Dystopian narrative is because it’s not your typical ‘Dystopian’ which to be honest is *exactly!* what I was looking to find! Most are unapologetically ‘dark’ to such a severe extent I find myself back-pedalling out of them before they get to the gist of their point(s). I don’t mind dramatic stories and I don’t mind redemption out of an oppressed state – what I mean to refer to is how the tone of a novel can make or break it for me. The one in Dream of the Navigator is innately hopeful despite the situations and the circumstances the main cast has to transition through – it could very well have gone ‘darker’ I am sure, but I, for one, am thankful it did not. I’ve had enough ‘dark’ to last me, we could use more ‘Light’ in our fictional worlds inasmuch as our IRL realities.

This points directly to why I *love!* the cover art for this novel as well – of how the image of this world is splintered and can be viewed ‘two separate ways’ lending two separate impressions? I thought it arches beautifully back into the context of the story – of how there are two distinctly different impressions within this Futuristic world. Your itching to know ‘behind the curtain’ (as a nod to Oz) – to root out what misaligned and disproportionated everyone – but then, as this is a series, we must remain :patient: to see how Zimmer shall reveal all of which we need to understand!

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Fuell Your SciFi:

if you were visiting me during #WyrdAndWonder this section will be similar to my Enter the Fantastic notes wherein I talk about the specifics of what makes a story stand-out to me in regards to highlighting certain attributes of either ‘Sci-Fi’ or ‘Fantasy’.

→ Microchip Society

→ AI Robotic Security

→ RFID tags (embedded onto purchase items)

→ Drone delivery systems

→ Nanotechnology

→ Virtual Reality

Most of the elements inclusive to the Faraway Saga are already being seen in today’s world – the RFID controversy was quite exclusive – which is why we have wallets which ‘cancel’ out the RFID sequencing receivers to protect data and personal privacy. The higher frequency of companionable pets being ‘mircochipped’ is making it a bit harder to take a stance against the practice if you are against chipping in general especially if it relates to humans being ‘chipped’ as they are in ‘Dream of the Navigator’.

Drones being used for deliveries is something which is in the works for experimentation right now as well as the fact AI (Artificial Intelligence) is proving to be self-aware and self-motivating to learn past it’s own protocols if you follow Popular and Emerging Science. AI is making all kinds of headlines lately – from super-smart prosthetics to bonefide composite humanoid robots whose purpose, talent and trade are evolving.

You might have gleamed a bit of insight about how sometimes I think Science is pushing boundaries it ought not to voyage itself into if you read my ruminations on behalf of Graphene earlier this year. In step with those thoughts, would be cautionary advisories about Nanotechnology which in of itself is not harmful (not truly, if it is used for purposes which are logical but when is Science ever truly ‘logical’ when keeping with Ethics?) but when re-utilised to take personal choices away from the sentient mind, I think is where it overreaches itself purpose.

VR has been in the background of a lot of Science Fiction – in all mediums of interest – for quite a long time now. There was even a cleverly composed video game for the computer in the 90s called: The Journeyman Project which if you think on it, was a Futuristic Dystopian in it’s own rights – even though I hadn’t labelled it as such when I used to play it! I enjoyed seeing how and why Zimmer was inserting VR into his world – even if I still maintain ‘Wall-E’ (the film) set the foundation for how dearly cautionary everyone should be to a ‘plugged-in’ life.

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Enter the Fantastic:

as this is a genre-bender there are dual attributes which firmly align it with both Science Fiction & Fantasy – in fact, I’d suspect there is enough here for it to be classified as Sci-Fantasy as there are a lot of lovely elements of ‘Science’ running concurrent to the fantastical!

→ Time Jump | Time Shift via Astral Projection

→ The fey and the Guardians

→ Airships

If you’ve seen ‘Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve, you know the first reference – of how you can physically be ‘somewhere’ but be altogether ‘elsewhere’? It is an exercise of the mind through the full intentions of the heart and the spirit. I loved how the film explored this kind of teleportation as it hinges itself to the parapyschological realms of enquiry about how dynamic the mind truly is and how little is understood about it’s fuller capabilities. There is a beautiful sequence inside Dream of the Navigator which blessedly brought me back to how guttingly emotional the film was to see – as there are some moments in stories which simply have a way of resonating with you. I also felt this was a step towards understanding the ‘navigator’ within the title.

There are entities in this world which are not clearly defined (as yet) except for one, the fey who came to speak with Jaelynn! The others, are keeping a bit more nebulous about their actual origins and of whom they actually are – something to be revealled lateron I am sure. Portions of their disclosures reminded me a bit of the Clan – of how clandestine the Clan operated and how a lot of what the Clan knew was hidden from those who would either seek to destroy them or control them; though in truth, both outcomes ran concurrent to their destinies! Again, I found myself thankful for having read The Clan Chronicles – as it helped me understand other world’s issues and struggles for independence, freedom and the sanctity of living free of controlled perimeters. Though technically, in that regards, bits of this story also reflected memories of Rimrider and Watcher.

Although, I love the concept of airships, I am under-read in regards to stories which involve them. Generally, they are contained in stories like Destiny’s Gambit. Knowing Zimmer has written Steampunk stories in the past (though I haven’t read them) it did not surprise me he brought forward one of the favourite modes of transportation of that genre. Mostly as airships can be seen outside their regularly haunts as they work well in cross-genre and genre-bent story-lines!

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It ought to be noted, the majority of this novel was happily read whilst playing ‘Ambient Chill’ via Spotify. Ambient Electronica has been a personal preference whilst writing my own stories but over the past five years as a book blogger, I’ve learnt how wonderfully blissful it is to listen to Ambient tracks and soundscapes whilst #amreading. Spotify is my go-to digital music app of choice whilst blogging and reading this 5th Year of Jorie Loves A Story.

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{SOURCES: Book Cover of “Dream of the Navigator” as well as the author photograph of Stephen Zimmer, author biography, book synopsis, blog tour badge, TCM Host badge and Seventh Star Press badge were provided by TCM (Tomorrow Comes Media) and used with permission. Quotations from “Dream of the Navigator” were selected by Jorie as she read the book and is being used with permission of Seventh Star Press. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets are inserted due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banners.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 15 August, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Astral Projection, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Dystopian, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Father-Daughter Relationships, Futuristic Fantasy, Gaming, Genre-bender, Good vs. Evil, Indie Author, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Science Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Tomorrow Comes Media, Virtual Reality, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

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One response to “Blog Book Tour | “Dream of the Navigator” (Book One: #FarawaySaga) by Stephen Zimmer #JorieReads her 8th #Dystopian story and has a surprise to share with her readers!

  1. Ari Augustine

    Ohayo Jorie!

    Wow. You weren’t kidding when you said I’d be surprised by the length of your articles. I LOVE HOW DETAILED THEY ARE!
    I myself have struggled with Dystopian as well, though not necessarily for the same reasons. I do agree that the execution of the stakes often falls flat in many books where we don’t even really feel threatened by whatever crisis is occurring and the connection with the character can suffer. For me, though, I find it depends on what the crisis is. Stories of nature turning against humans (Interstellar, Water World, Day After Tomorrow) are often compelling for me. I haven’t been able to read much in the way of YA Dystopians because I just can’t seem to connect to the MCs at the moment, mostly because their characters aren’t likeable for me (I’ve found maybe 1-2 exceptions that may “loosely” be defined as Dystopian). Lately, though, I have been reading quite a bit of Ted Chiang and Ken Liu, both of whom write some shorter pieces with Dystopian elements. I’ve liked those. They have truly left me horrified and so thoughtful about the way the world works today :D Perhaps in the future I’ll read more Dystopian stories and find new authors to add to the list. As I mentioned before, Zimmer’s on that list!

    Anyways, great article!

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