Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: 'Melt' by Ann Denton

New Mexico born author Ann Denton has studied playwriting at the University of New Mexico and earned a MA in Theater history at University of California Santa Barbara, has worked in the corporate world, traveled extensively and writes in the sci-fi fantasy, dystopian and teen/YA genres. MELT is her first published book. Of note, Ann states she is an INTJ – and for those unfamiliar with that acronym, ‘INTJ (introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to "The Mastermind". INTJs are one of the rarest of the 16 psychological types and account for approximately 2–4% of the population. Women of this personality type are especially rare, forming just 0.8% of the population.’

Ann’s affinity for theater is evident in her writing – plot is carefully paced, characters are well defined (even though some are shapeshifters, dystopian, magic, etc), and the momentum of the novel is propulsive to the point that once started the urge is to complete the novel to discover the adrenaline rush of the end. The book is sophisticated by is intended for the young adult audience (those who love the Harry Potter type books – which of course includes curious adults!) and carries some valuable philosophical points – ethnic warfare, bartering, children as soldiers.

Though written with style and grace the opening of the book takes a chapter or two to gain footing, but once inside Ann Denton’s head concept the story unfolds as follows ‘Fire for fire. Blood for blood. A teenage girl must master her powers before she becomes prey in a post-apocalyptic war. After the apocalypse, the two surviving tribes are locked in a war for the Gottermund River, the only water source untainted by the bomb. Mala is a medic’s daughter who’d do anything to be normal. Even break the law. She believes she’s on the brink of insanity. She keeps having visions. She can’t stand to see the injured soldiers her mother treats, their haunted eyes make her hallucinate. To get rid of the delusions, Mala tries an illegal magic spell. And then, all hell breaks loose. An attack by the other tribe becomes a massacre. Mala’s mother is killed. And Mala’s hallucinations morph into something new—a power no one has ever seen before. She’s recruited into a covert group of assassins. They promise her vengeance. But Mala’s power draws people like a moth to a flame. And everyone has an agenda…Mala finds herself caught in a web of war, intrigue, and magic. Will she escape alive?

Yes, the story is bizarre – as is true of all successful dystopian novels that depend on fantasy to seduce the visions of the author. But Ann introduces just the right amount of concepts with her character development to make the book both entertaining and thought provoking – and that for young adult books is most refreshing! A fine first book. Grady Harp, March 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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