Wednesday, July 23, 2014

E by Kate Wrath

Title: E
Author: Kate Wrath
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition) and Amazon (Paperback).

Author's description:

A poignant tale of love and friendship in a world beyond hope…

Outpost Three: a huddle of crumbling buildings choked by a concrete wall.  Cracked pavement, rusted metal, splintering boards.  Huge robotic Sentries police the streets, but the Ten Laws are broken every time one turns its back.

Eden is determined, smart, and a born survivor.  Stripped of her memories and dumped on the streets of the Outpost, slavers and starvation are only the beginning of her problems.  A devastating conflict is coming that threatens to consume her world and tear her newfound family apart.

Life is harsh.  It makes no exceptions.  Not even for the innocent.

I don't usually read sci-fi. Or dystopian. I'm more of a happy reader, looking for rainbows and unicorns. What made me read (and love, and put the author on my top favorite authors list) "E" were the first paragraphs posted on Kate Wrath's website. The power and the beauty of the dark, poetic language won me over, reminding me of some of my favorite poets. And once you start reading this book, trust me, you cannot stop.

My official review:

Title & Genre
"E". As simple as that. The title is a mystery, just like the main character of the book. You will only discover what the title means when you are about 50% in this science-fiction, dystopian novel, so I won't spoil that for you.  

Theme & Plot
The storyline is constructed around three main themes: hope and the loss of it, character destruction and rebuilding, and the battle between good and evil. Actually, I would rephrase the last one as "the battle between evil and less evil", because we are talking about a world where nothing is good or innocent, and one has to choose between worse and the worst.
The main plot revolves around the main character and what she has to do to survive. I think the main fights take place in her heart and mind, not in the outside world. On the outside, though, there are events and struggles that create an endless web of sub-plots. A simple accident (getting a piece of glass stuck in Eden's foot) creates a whole side-story that lasts through chapters. Characters rise and die, taking their stories with them. The beginning of one sub-plot sometimes resolves the other, but in general, there are two or three going on at the same time.

Point of view
The novel is written in first person, present tense, from the main character's point of view. That gives you the chance to discover the world that she is dumped in together with her, as you start on the same level: neither you, nor the character knows what that world is like in the beginning.

Kate Wrath's characters are alive. You see them, feel them, bond with them and discover their world through their eyes. The main character is "reborn" from an "iron womb", nameless, in a hopeless world. She has no memories, no past, no future. Later on, she names herself Eden. Since the story is written from her point of view, the reader bonds with her deeply; you end up liking what she likes and hating what she hates. Eden is a complex character that learns, discovers, adapts and evolves very fast. Think of a new-born child forced to become a grown-up in a matter of days. What I like is that, even if her memories were erased, her sense of morality remained intact. She always tries to do the right thing, in this world where being correct lessens your chances of survival. This also leads to inner struggles, when she has to choose a side to fight on or choose among friends. The author pays the same attention to secondary characters: Apollon, Jonas, Miranda, Neveah, and my favorite, Oscar (which make up her new family); and Matt, the "god" of the Outpost, a very controversial character that you hate and love in the same time. All these characters have depths that I have rarely seen in a sci-fi writing.

As you would expect from a sci-fi/dystopian novel, the setting is crucial to the events that take place and to character development. What renders "E" different from other books in the same genre is the lack of direct description, the lack of dwelling on the subject. Everything happens in Outpost Three, but that is all you will know about it. You do not find out where it is situated, in what year, how big or small it is, and you do not need to, because it is not essential to the storyline. It is the dark atmosphere that the author creates that lets you in what the Outpost is all about. She does not describe the rags that people are wearing, but tells you that the leading groups have fewer holes in their clothing; she does not try to tell you what hunger feels like, but that "even the mold tastes good". Kate Wrath creates a world where being pretty is a curse, where you sell yourself for a crust of moldy bread, where the only way to "get rich" is to strip a corpse of its belongings, where menace comes in many shapes and from many sides, "the bottom of humanity's barrel". 

Modern poetry are the words that define Kate Wrath's style. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love it. Fragmented sentences; rich, descriptive vocabulary; attention to details and, especially, to feelings; dialogue as a main source of characterization – these are just a few things that describe this author's style. She lets the train of thought go, makes you think what the character thinks, and the thoughts come into your head not through words, but through this poetic language that enables it. A language that speaks to your subconscious, demanding to let go and embrace your feelings, and be part of this grim universe. 
I will give you only one example: "Tepid air.  Tepid metal.  The inability to move.  Limbs pressing outward, ineffective.  My ribcage curled in on itself.  No room to breathe.  The back of my skull smashed against the box.  Neck and spine aching.  Heavy limbs.  Not enough space.  Not enough air.  Suffocating.  Dying." Get the drift?

Obviously, I recommend this book to sci-fi and dystopian readers, poetry lovers, readers in search of a good thriller or a good book in general. But I warn you: this book is not for the weak hearted.

My Twist:

Favorite character: Oscar, without a doubt. This little sunshine of a boy offers you a ray of hope in an otherwise hopeless world.
Favorite quote: "E". No, not the title. The whole damn book. 
I'll choose a little rainbow-sweet quote for you, though: "Once […] there was this white doe. I don't think she died […].  I don't think God would let something that pretty die. Well, […] if I was God, I wouldn't."
Favorite names: Eden and Apollon. All the names are well-chosen and meaningful, but these two got my attention: Eden – a garden of beauty and desired perfection in a far-from-perfect universe – and Apollon – a cross-breed between Apollo, the Roman god of sunlight, and Apollyon, the destroyer, a name given to the Devil in the New Testament.

Least favorite character: Miranda – shallow, egocentric, but good-at-heart character, who sometimes behaves like a spoiled brat – it is a wonder how she has survived for so long in this world.
Least favorite quote: "You stink" – I never like it when people say that to me; do you?

Aspirin of the book:

If you wake up one day with no memories, in a dark world where everyone wants to harm you, and you don't even have your cell phone with you, look at the bright side: you might get to eat rats!


  1. ROFL. I think a lot of people are wondering how Miranda managed to survive so long. :)

    Thank you, Anka. This was a beautiful and insightful review. I'm touched that you enjoyed E so much, and humbled by the privilege of being grouped (even temporarily) with your favorite poets.

    1. It was my pleasure! Thank you for writing such an amazing book and sharing it with the world. Waiting for more! ;)

  2. Your favourite character is Oscar! Me too! I loved this review so much, it was just amazing and perfectly described my feels while reading this book!
    P.S I didn't like Miranda either, not a fan of her most of the time.

    1. It's impossible to not love Oscar!
      Thank you for your words, but I thought that your review was way cooler than mine :)

  3. What a truly inspiring review! I'm not a fan of Sci-fi too, but this mysterious novel fills my mind with curiousity.

    Like you, I don't like the "you stink" quote too. I wonder if anyone does.

    1. Thank you! I recommend this book to non-lovers of Sci-Fi with all my heart. I found it amazing.

      Sometimes, in a book you love, it is truly very difficult to find a quote that you don't like... so I try to twist it in a funny way. :)