Western Desert is the second in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael by P.J Sharon and it’s as excellent as the first (See my review of it here). This dystopian/post-apocalyptic series should be as popular as the Hunger Games; it really is one of the best YA dystopian books around. The only reason it isn’t on everyone’s lips and on everyone’s Kindles is because as an indie author, P.J Sharon does not have the backing of a big publisher, and that’s all the more reason why you should read this book and shout about it far and wide. It’s beautifully crafted, well-polished and a unique and powerful story. Books like this make liars of those who say that indie books are of lesser quality. This is far better than many mainstream books I’ve read.
The human race has pretty much stuffed the planet in Lily Carmichael’s world. Radiation is so high that you have to stay inside in the middle of the day and the level is climbing, extreme storms wreck havoc and a virus has wiped out a large number of the population. New York is in ruins and inhabited by murderous gangs and the Government is under the control of the Vice President, a megalomaniac who has taken control of many of the cities and given people food, shelter and medical care in exchange for their freedom to choose their jobs, homes and spouses. Huge domes protect these cities and towns from the radiation, and outside of them, people take their chances with radiation, bandits and lack of food, goods and services. Lily lives on the outside and that’s where she intends to stay.
In this book, Lily, accompanied by love-interest Will, is on a mission to wrench her brother back from the clutches of the Vice President and the evil doctor who oversaw the genetic modifications that make Lily and her brother, as well as Will and another boy stolen from her hometown, important for the megalomaniac’s plans. Things are not that simple, however, and after a journey full of dangers and obstacles, Lily and Will discover that things are not as they seem.
Beneath the tension of simply surviving in their world and getting to where they want to go—an institute in the WesternDesert beneath Las Vegas—Lily has mixed feelings for Will. They are attracted to each other, but they have very different ideas about carrying and using weapons. Will has lied to her in the past, and tends to take things into his own hands, taking actions that Lily doesn’t agree with in order to protect her. The big question is can they trust each other? The characterisation is solid for both the main and subsidiary characters, and them and their relationships grow as the story progresses—as it should, but often doesn’t in modern fiction.
The plot is action-packed and the pacing is excellent with just the right amount of tension and rest periods. I loved the hot spring scene. Reader’s need respite from the life-threatening action just as the characters do.
The end is bitter sweet and very well done. Though some may prefer a more cheesy end, this is much more real. It left me quite satisfied and looking forward to another installment
I give this an unrestrained 5 stars, and recommend that everyone who likes YA dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels read this one. If you don’t like the genre, at least share this with friends who do because this author deserves to sell lots of books.