Economic ruin and partisan rancor have pushed America to the brink of a new civil war. Esther is caught in the middle, serving as a page in the United States House of Representatives when rogue politicians and military leaders stage a modern day coup d’etat. When the coup turns violent, she abandons Washington, D.C. for home. She must learn to survive on her own as transportation and financial networks fail, as the war disrupts food and water supplies. The result is a cautionary tale about political extremism and the true cost of war.
With little understanding of American politics I found the initial portion of the book slow paced and at times perplexing. This back ground is essential however, as it places our protagonist in a unique position to witness the growing political unrest first hand. Once war is declared the pace builds quickly and the resulting story is impossible to put down as my red rimmed, sleep deprived eyes can testify.
Esther is a complex and flawed character, a combination of determined political ambition and idealistic naivety. I didn’t immediately warm to Esther; at times she was proud and superior and I particularly disliked the dismissive manner in which she spoke to her parents. But she is also exceptionally patient, open and honest to a fault. She has a remarkably well developed vocabulary, beyond anything I was capable of at eighteen or even now. I have to be honest that I needed to utilise the dictionary feature of my Kindle on more than one occasion!
But Ester is not your average teen. She is a gifted student who has been selected from thousands of applicants to undertake the once in a lifetime opportunity to serve as a republican intern in the United States House of Representatives. Initially desperate to leave home and experience all her internship has to offer, Esther is quickly disillusioned with the page program and the senators she had previously admired and aspired to be like.
The turning point in our character’s development, and my relationship with her, came when she had to choose between her future political career and her integrity. From that point on she displays amazing mental and later physical resilience as she fights her own battle to survive the war and make it back home.
Unlike other dystopian stories I have read, Far from the war is set in fairly contemporary America. This is the story that bridges the gap between society as we know it and the warped Utopian visions and dystopian societies of futurist fiction. There are no fantastical technologies or extreme societal rules allowing you to maintain a degree of detachment. While the violence is not gratuitous, it is harder hitting for its realism and as such I would recommend that those with a sensitive disposition proceed with caution.
Verdict: I urge you to persevere with this book as following the slow burn of trilogy scene setting, you will be rewarded with a devastatingly realistic dystopian journey through modern war torn America that will leave you thoughtful, and just a touch nervous.
Parental Note: Contains realistic depictions of war including: dead bodies, graphic injuries, murder, rape and the destruction of cities.
Reviewed by Caroline