Avant Nation by CD Verhoff is a dystopian novel in the tradition of Brave New World and The Hunger Games. Like these books, much of the world is governed by a totalitarian regime that controls every aspect of its citizen’s lives. As for how the vast majority of citizens feel about it, the work skews far more towards Brave New World in that they don’t even realize that anything is wrong. The economy in Avantica is booming and disease and crime are nearly non-existent. Yet, step out of line and you are hauled off to a secret colony.
Main heroin Clara Spinner begins to question certain aspects of Avantica and its ruling government, especially the algorithm that is used to determine who gets how much medical treatment. However, she also has certain talents that lead to her going a mission deep into the territory of the Liberty Human Democracy, Avantica’s chief enemy. The things that are revealed during this mission lead to Clara’s doubts blossoming even more, setting the stage for a sequel.
This is this second book that I have read from Verhoff, the other being Comet Dust. In both works, she excels at building a detailed and believable world in which it is clear that there is a reason for everything, even if not explicitly stated. She also does an excellent job of building secondary characters that are more than mere cardboard cutouts, many even growing into full-fledged, three dimensional characters in their own right. These characters are also used to show the good and bad sides of Avantica and LUD. Not only are the two societies developed, with neither being completely evil or good but those characters are allowed to show a range of traits that make them seem like normal flawed people rather than ideological stand-ins. I will say that the author doesn’t do as good a job here as in Comet Dust, particularly with the extreme (though not complete) goodness and badness of two different groups of people that are met in LUD. Still, if a reader pays close attention, he will find that there is still a good deal of nuance there.
I highly recommend this book and hope that the sequel shows up sooner rather than later.