Alice in No-Man’s-Land
by James Knapp
Publisher: Curtis Brown Unlimited
Release Date: June 10th 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Thriller, Fantasy, Apocalyptic
When her escape pod falls to earth, crashing in Ypsilanti Bloc, privileged seventeen-year-old Alice Walshe is dashed from the wonderland of wealth and prosperity into a ruined, walled city overrun with militias, gangs, and even cannibals. On top of this horror, her younger brother’s escape pod is missing.
Alice isn’t naïve – she’s always known blocs like Ypsilanti exist, left behind after a foodborne illness ravished the country decades earlier and left pockets of severe urban decay in its wake. Men like her father – a major player at Cerulean Holdings – renew the devastated blocs and bring stability back into the areas. But, Ypsilanti is even worse than the tales she’s heard, and rumor has it the bloc is faced with the threat of extermination by Cerulean, not renewal.
Trapped within Ypsilanti’s borders and left for dead, Alice teams up with a pair of teen scavengers who tracked the wreck of her pod. Despite their rough exterior and vulgar speech, they’re her only option for navigating the hostile and violent environment of Ypsilanti, finding her brother, and getting out of No-Man’s-Land alive..
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).
(This review may contain spoilers).
I was quite taken by this story. Although I did have some moments of confusion while I was reading the book to begin with, I very quickly found it easy to care about Alice as a character. While I would have liked some more detail about the training she’d had (it was mentioned only briefly), I found her easy to empathise with and it was interesting to see how she had to deal with a world so vastly different to the one she was used to.
I liked being able to see Alice interacting with her brother, though I didn’t get much of an idea of her relationship with her father. It was good to see how she was dealing with her father’s girlfriend, though… and it was good to see that Greta was actually a nice person and did try to help Alice and Cody out, even at the cost of herself.
It was interesting to see bits and pieces of the society at the beginning of each chapter and to get some idea of how people viewed the squatters. While the other society was clearly a vicious one, I did think that they were clearly just trying to survive… and even though there were aspects that were vicious, I could relate to the survival instinct. At the same time, it was easy to see why Alice would find many aspects of their culture difficult to deal with.
I really liked Basilio as a character, though I found his apparent romantic interest in Alice very difficult to believe in. I preferred Maya’s interactions with Alice and I felt that the friendship between them evolved in a real, natural way.
There was a lot of violence in this book, but I felt that it did fit in with the society. I thought it was good to see that, although Alice was intelligent, she did need help to survive… and she didn’t know everything about the other society.
There were a lot of good moments of tension in this book and I found it really easy to read. I think I would be interested in reading a sequel to this book… and checking out more books by this author in the future.
About The Author
James Knapp was born in New Hampshire in 1970, and has lived in the New England area since that time. He developed a love of reading and writing early on, participating in young author competitions as early as grade school, but the later discovery of works by Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov turned that love to an obsession.
He wrote continuously through high school, college and beyond, eventually breaking into the field with the publication of the Revivors trilogy (State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero). State of Decay was a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and won the 2010 Compton Crook Award. Ember, The Burn Zone, and Fallout were all written under the name James K. Decker.
He now lives in MA with his wife Kim.