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Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review):
In North’s debut YA novel set in a violently divided, high-tech New York City, a poor girl enrolls in a Manhattan school that serves as an enclave for the fabulously rich, powerful, and dangerous.
An “Orderist” movement has given privilege and rank to those said to have the most “merit,” which include America’s wealthiest people. This state of affairs made California secede from the Union to become a rogue state; meanwhile, Manhattan, the new capital of the remaining 49, is a paradise of affluence for its chosen elite, with such fabulous luxuries as gene enhancements, gated communities, guardian drones, and self-driving taxis. The Bronx, meanwhile, is wretched, drug-ridden, and plague-filled. It’s also home to Daniela Machado, a fierce girl with phenomenal high school grades and impressive stats in track and field. She’s driven by a single-minded aim to attend a local medical school and fight “the Waste,” a mysterious, eventually fatal malady that’s slowly overtaking her political-agitator brother, Mateo. Unexpectedly, Daniela is granted a one-in-a-million chance to attend the Tuck School, a Manhattan academy for the best of the so-called “highborn.” She’s suspicious of the faculty’s motives and of the uber-handsome classmates around her, some of whom are friendly and welcoming, others not. She soon finds out that her predecessor apparently committed suicide, and she gets drawn into intrigue at the highest levels. There’s no shortage of YA sci-fi yarns that focus on the gap between haves and have-nots. But North’s entry is superlative, and his well-rendered setting is a more interesting conceit than Suzanne Collins’ similar Panem in The Hunger Games. Ultimately, what starts out as sort of a fish-out-of-water drama with sci-fi trappings becomes the story of a veritable clash of superbeings, but North maintains expert control over it, much as J.K. Rowling did in her Harry Potter sagas. The action scenes are deftly handled, as are the depictions of compelling, smart, multicultural characters. The background philosophy behind the Orderists also has a sinister verisimilitude (Aldous Huxley is cited, although Ayn Rand, curiously, is not). Both YA and adult readers will be transfixed by this novel, which works well as both a stand-alone and as a series opener.
A promising debut that re-energizes tropes in the dystopian sci-fi genre.
US REVIEW OF BOOKS (Recommended):
Daniela Machado is a high-school student in the dystopian barrio of Bronx City. With growing divides between races and classes due to the changes that have happened in the country, a war zone is breaking out between the genetically perfected highborns in Manhattan and the nopes residing in the poorer districts. Daniela only wants two things in life: to continue her dominant winning streak on the school track team, and to cure her brother Mateo of a mysterious disease known as The Waste, which only infects poorer people and kills them off while young. Daniela is offered a free ride scholarship to the Tuck Academy, a Manhattan school for the gifted, offering her a possibility of achieving both of her goals. Being pulled into the world of the highborns, however, carries with it significant risks.
Filled with mystery, suspense, and plenty of action, this book moves at a runner’s pace from start to finish. With the bulk of its characters being teenaged and coming from various walks of life, it easily fits into the mold of the young adult genre, giving equal amounts of focus to building the world and growing the characters that inhabit it. The story itself is immensely creative, featuring sci-fi technology that results in superpowers for the lucky few who can attain them. Still, the fantasy of this story is tempered with aspects of reality identifiable to more mature readers. Setting up a wealth of mysteries before pulling back the veil on each, it’s hard to escape the grasp of this book, which can function just as well on its own or as the start of an expansive franchise. It could be easy to describe this story as sci-fi, young adult, or fantasy, but it blends and transcends each of those labels and stands as unique.
CHANTICLEER BOOK REVIEWS (5/5 STARS):
In Age of Order, Julian North creates a fascinating dystopia for the young adult reader that hits all the right notes.
Set in the believably near future of the United States, the action is often thrilling, complete with high-tech rivalries, partisan politics, chase scenes, and class conflicts. While most of the major characters are teens, North’s insights into their thoughts and feelings can apply to any age, lending an ageless quality to this otherwise clear morality tale. Their conflicts, confusions, and pain are more than any child, should have to encounter. But in this world, those lucky enough to survive must grow-up quickly.
Daniela Machado, a young Latina from Bronx City, is the protagonist. She’s smart and successfully athletic – especially on the track – but she has more than a few secrets. She’s learned to be very protective of herself and those she cares about, her blood, in an environment where others frequently die. Aba, her grandmother, and her older brother Mateo, along with her sister of choice, Kortilla, are the only ones she fully trusts.
Daniela knows something must be behind the sudden offer she receives to attend a very prestigious and selective school in another part of the Five Cities, and she’s reluctant to accept. Attending the new school and leaving Kortilla behind, however, may be the only chance Daniela has to save Mateo’s life.
In this school environment, North skillfully weaves in multiple references to other dystopian works frequently taught to teenagers. The reader will be reminded of the lessons of Orwell, Huxley, and William Golding, as Daniela reads them for class. Something else becomes abundantly clear: Daniela and most of her classmates don’t get along.
It’s more than just a question of money and social standing, though. It’s genetics.
Daniela finds her one solace in running, and she fights her way onto the school track team. No one, not even the school star, can easily beat her when she runs. Daniela, it becomes apparent, has a gift which, after being honed throughout childhood, is now formidable.
It’s on the track when she feels completely free, even when the competition seems unfairly rigged against her. North does a fine job of writing these athletic scenes and the reader will feel their feet pounding and gasping for breath as Daniela runs against others –and her hidden past.
As that past comes into conflict with what she is experiencing at school, Daniela and her allies begin to see the true shape of the reality around them. Only through courage and steely resolve will they be able to do what must be done to prevent the genocide those in power have already begun. It’s up to Daniela to find her true self, when she needs it most, to save the people she loves.
“Age of Order is powerfully charged with rich characters and a dynamic story line. One of the BEST new Y/A books we’ve reviewed!” – Chanticleer Reviews
DYSTOPIANREALM.COM (5/5, #5 YA DYSTOPIAN OF ALL TIME):
Age of Order is a dazzling debut novel that we are tempted to call the best the genre has seen since the original Hunger Games–except that Age of Order is actually the more skillfully crafted story. The book’s protagonist is Daniela Machado, a sixteen-year old high school student and track star scrapping along in Bronx City. Her brother and many others suffer from a mysterious virus that strikes only the young, and only in poor areas. She is offered a chance to help both her brother and herself through an unexpected opportunity to attend the Tuck School in Manhattan, a hive of the genetically engineered highborn elite who dominate society through their wealth and certain dubious adjustments to the country’s system of government. At Tuck, Daniela discovers a world of unexpected intrigue and mysteries, the foremost of which are: what really happened to the girl whose spot Daniela took and why has she been given this opportunity to attend Tuck? The answers are bigger than the questions, and North take us on an exciting and thought-provoking journey through Manhattan society, giving us the opportunity to meet the best and worst of this new world, as well as everything in between. Most importantly, he delivers a satisfying and well-plotted conclusion.
North has crafted a vivid dystopian world that echoes the darkness in our own. His vision of the future is populated by characters so real that you will find yourself still thinking about them even after you’ve managed to close the book to try to get some sleep. The pace is steady where it needs to be, and frantic exactly when you want. The plotting is elegantly accessible but filled with unseen twists that will seem obvious on your second read (and you will want to do a second read). We absolutely loved the direct and subtle references to the best of sci-fi, delivered mostly through the nostalgic voice of Nythan Royce—a character sure to be enjoyed by fans of Ready Player One. The author is also quite obviously familiar with Manhattan, as are we here at the DR; this book is a must read for citizens of Gotham. Fans of Red Rising will enjoy Age of Order’s action and prose, while the intrigue and plot twists are reminiscent of Game of Thrones. It’s dark enough at times for readers of 1984. This is a book that everyone—even if you aren’t usually a fan of the dystopian genre—should read.
RT REVIEW SOURCE:
North’s debut novel has mass appeal. Although the premise may feel familiar to science fiction aficionados, the engaging characters, suspenseful storyline and expert worldbuilding will keep readers entertained and spellbound. The plot is multi-layered and unpredictable. Daniela is a heroine that many will get behind — she’s earnest, loyal and lives by the motto: blood takes care of blood. Readers will eagerly anticipate further work by this author.
SUMMARY: Daniela Machado is given the opportunity to attend the prestigious Tuck School in Manhattan. Given the chance to study the little darlings of the rich and influential, she learns that they’re more cutthroat than the lowest criminal in her hometown of Bronx City. Daniela soon discovers her good fortune is not a coincidence, and she stumbles upon a plot to destroy the very fabric of the elitist society. She’ll also discover how far those in power will go to keep “prosperity through order.”
The Bottom Line: Fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games will find plenty to love in this enthralling, fast-paced story filled with richly drawn characters and the injustices they face.
A track star, Daniela Machado has the opportunity to escape the world she knows — the squalor, oppression and constant vigilance required to survive in Bronx City — and claim a spot at the elite Tuck School. While most of the people in her world live under mechanical surveillance, a select group of so called ‘highborn’ dominate the country.
Julian North crafts a tale of contrasts. Daniela moves from a dark world and faces the choice of entering a gilt paradise or staying true to herself. She’s told that she’s earning her way in, but as Daniela explores further , she finds that the system isn’t based on achievement, but nepotism and greed. Daniela is clever, headstrong, and fast. The fact that she can outrun flying robots and outsmart many of her prep-school counterparts is a testament to her character.
North’s rich settings are perfect for showing off Daniela’s determination. At the Tuck School, which is populated by the spawn of Manhattan’s elite, she finds herself in unfamiliar territory, but her ability to adapt and observe serve her well, especially when she starts discovering corruption at the highest levels of society. The deeper she goes, the stronger her determination to fight for what’s right, even at the risk of her position and her life.
Age of Order is a young adult novel that will appeal to anyone looking for polished science fiction with a healthy dose of real-life grit. Daniela Machado might appear to be following in the footsteps of her sisters Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior, but she proves time and time again that she can outrun anyone when she’s pushed to the edge.