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A mysterious calamity, an island of survivors, manipulation, intrigue, and a centuries old secret that could kill them all.
The Dead Room, by Stephanie Erickson, is a gripping dystopian novel set on an unnamed island in the Northern Pacific 322 years after an apocalypse.
The islanders know little of what happened to wipe out most of the human population, but their leaders, the nine elders, teach that the islanders are the final remnants of humanity.
The elders aren’t just leaders, though, they are also privy to secrets passed down for generations.
And Ashley Wortham doesn’t trust them.
Not one bit.
“No one knows what claimed so many lives over three centuries ago, and no one asks, except Ashley Wortham. She can feel the secrets all around her, begging to be uncovered.”
~excerpt from official Amazon book blurb
Ashley and her best friend, Mason, embark on an adventure that keeps the elders on their toes and poses as many questions as it answers.
- What do the elders do with bodies after a funeral?
- Are the islanders really the last people on Earth?
- What caused the apocalypse?
- Why is Ashley the only person asking questions?
- Can any of the elders be trusted?
- Will Ashley and Mason survive the elders’ wrath?
The Dead Room is the first book in a trilogy, and was published in 2015. It ends with a devastating cliffhanger that will have you immediately lunging for book two. The sequel, The Dead World, was released in 2016. The third book has yet to be released.
Spoiler Free, Guaranteed
Written in deep third person, the narrative opens with Ashley Wortham as she comes to terms with a horrific incident that has changed her status on the island. It is here that we learn the social hierarchy constructed by the first elders to preserve peace (or maintain power) and to ensure the propagation of the human race. Marriages are carefully arranged to avoid inbreeding, duties and partners are assigned at the will of the elders, and rumors abound of the harsh punishment meted out to those who dare defy the status quo.
But as the story presses onward, the POV shifts to highlight Mason and several of the elders on the island. It soon becomes clear that the elders are more nuanced and complex than they initially appear. Perhaps they know more about the apocalypse than they are letting on.
But when Ashley, and her best friend Mason, go down the rabbit hole, no one is prepared for the truths they uncover. What will they do when they discover the downfall of humanity lies within their own island, deep inside the dead room?
~excerpt from official Amazon book blurb
Content Warning Note: If you are triggered by mention of domestic abuse, this may not be the book for you.
The islanders are procreation-focused out of necessity and operate on a cisgender binary, hetero normative, forced marriage system, but Erickson does a beautiful job demonstrating that this often produces disgruntled, unhappy families.
There is also a clear caste system set in place based on an individual’s ability to contribute to society, but people who overproduce in their assigned duties are labeled show-offs and shunned. Not only that, but at one point Mason calls Ashley out on using ableist language as a way to insult him.
More by Stephanie Erickson
Goodreads: 2 other series
Website: Stephanie Erickson Books
Facebook: Stephanie Erickson
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