Review of DEVIANTS by Maureen McGowan

Deviants by Maureen McGowan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dome is the last community of human survivors on an asteroid-devastated Earth, which is now the province of savage Shredders and lethal Dust. Or so say the privileged elite who run the Dome. But when orphaned, 16-year-old Glory–whose power to kill with a glance makes her one of the Deviants who are feared and hated by the Dome’s inhabitants–is forced to run for her life to protect her crippled brother, she discovers that the world, and the Dome, are nothing like she has been taught to believe.

The repressive society that brainwashes its members in order to perpetuate its survival is a familiar dystopian trope. Familiar also is Glory’s first-person present-tense narrative voice, and the love triangle that presents her with two toothsome potential boyfriends (each, of course, with a dark side). DEVIANTS doesn’t feel derivative, however, due to McGowan’s solid writing, well-drawn characters, and clever worldbuilding. The deteriorating Dome–where the bulk of the population ekes out a hardscrabble existence, with all the necessities of life in short supply, while the elites live in secret luxury–is vividly portrayed; its terminology and organization subtly reveal its origins as some kind of end-of-the-world corporate refuge, though so much time has passed since the original disaster that none of its inhabitants remember this (except maybe the privileged few who run things). Glory is brave, resourceful, and believably conflicted, making hard decisions because there’s no one else to make them, risking everything to protect and care for her brother and to hide her own secret Deviancy.

There’s plenty of action, mystery, and suspense, but also quieter moments for reflection and insight–a nice contrast to some other dystopians, where non-stop action eventually exhausts the reader’s attention (not to mention his/her suspension of disbelief).

DEVIANTS finishes on a satisfying note. But it’s the first of a trilogy, and the conclusion leaves many mysteries unresolved, and Glory poised at the edge of a new and dangerous quest. I’m looking forward to the next installment of this promising series.

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