Ash by Shani Petroff and Darci Manley

ash

I received an ARC of this work.

3 out of 5 stars.

Dax and Madden live in a society where everyone has a destiny. It is extracted minutes after birth and determines the rest of your life. Most importantly, it determines your colour (a mix of social and economic status), where those with critical destinies are a royal purple, with less important destinies leading to less important colours, all the way down to ash.

Dax is a blank (one of the very few without a destiny at all) and is relegated to Ash, with dismal living conditions and daily prejudices. Madden is a Purple, with a destiny to become a top minister in the government, luxury accommodations, and praise and admiration. Their only connection is Link, Dax’s brother and Madden’s ex-boyfriend, who is jailed after protesting the execution of another of Dax’s brothers by the government. The two have to put their differences aside to try and rescue Link.

The overarching story arch is purely dystopian with the bad government and the inequality and the need to be taken down. One of the unique elements was that the two main protagonists were both women, so that there was not a love plot on top of the “people from separate backgrounds overcoming their prejudices to right wrongs” plot line. Hooray for exploring friendships and not just romance!!

The second element I really liked was the destiny system. Most everyone has a destiny and a corresponding time. The Ashes and Slates have destinies like “buy apples on the 22nd of April” or “Drive your car down a street on this date and time”. Reds and Purples will have destinies that stop wars and shape government policy. Despite the fact that everyone is supposed to be critical for the system, there is a lot of prejudice. I like the imagination of this system, that destinies can be small and silly, but people still NEED to fulfill them or the entire system goes to hell (or so the government believes).

If you are confused about the world and system in this book, don’t be discouraged, I was as well for the first chapter or so. It took me a while to grasp the terminology and some of the background.

This is a good, but not excellent, addition to the dystopian genre. It was not creative enough to be completely memorable, but good enough to not be a disappointment. I would recommend it for the premise, but not entirely for the execution. It was standard writing and a standard plot. None of the characters were overflowing with personality and the writing was not especially beautiful or clever. There were no plot twists that you could not see coming. You can read it and expect to be entertained, but not blown away.

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