#BlogTour Sleeper: The Red Storm by J.D. Fennell

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Sleeper: The Red Storm by JD Fennell. The sequel to the successful dystopian action thriller Sleeper.

The Red Storm manages to crank up the action even higher, which I didn’t think was possible after Sleeper, but Fennell brings even more to the table this time.

About the Author

J.D. was born in Belfast at the start if the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him.

A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës. He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.

These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.

J.D.’s debut, Sleeper, was published by The Dome Press in April 2017.

Follow @jd_fennell or @DomePress on Twitter or on facebook.com/JDFennellAuthor/

Visit sleeperbook.com

About the book

Will starling has been drafted into the SOE, joining forces with the French Resistance, but his  memory is fractured and only occasional flashbacks reveal fragments of his past. When his mission is compromised, Will suspects that he’s been betrayed. Back in London he hears that VIPER are developing a deadly weapon. As he and MI5 agent Anna Wilder set out to destroy it, their every move is anticipated by their enemies.

While Will fights to prevent genocide, his sister, Rose, has become the key to VIPER’s future plans and is drugged to dull her kinetic powers. But Rose faces danger from an unexpected enemy and her time is running out.

Q&A with JD Fennell

After the resounding success of Sleeper you are back with sequel, Sleeper – The Red Storm..

What was or is the inspiration for Sleeper? I wanted to write the kind of books I love to read. The Sleeper series are fast-paced spy thrillers with mysticism, the supernatural and sophisticated period technology on the fringes of reality. I wanted to be in that world, so I created one.

I would put this series in a multitude of genres, which is probably what makes it a read both younger and older readers find intriguing. It has elements of historical, war dystopian, sci-fi, spy thriller and industrial revolution steampunk meets futuristic weaponry genres. It is suitable for younger, young adult and older adults. An any age read, so to speak.

Was is it your intention to meld all of these different elements together or was it more of a this is where the plot is leading me kind of thing? Yes, it was. I wanted the characters to age as the story progresses. I did not want to remain in the same small timeframe. The first in the series, Sleeper, is a YA, which can be read by younger and older readers. In the sequel, The Red Storm, the characters are adults and well-established spies. Red Storm has an older voice and darker themes and as such has been marketed as an adult thriller.

Leading on from that was it also your intention to write a series that a person of any age can pick up and read, and parents would be happy to buy their book-hungry children? Yes I suppose it was. The third in the series will take place some years after the close of Red Storm. It will also be a darker book. That said I do intend to return to Rose’s story and write a short ebook about her. All that said, I would caution parents about choosing Red Storm for their children because of the dark themes and adult content, which will increase in the third book. They may want to read it first before passing it on. I know some parents have done this already.

As a parent of both book hungry and reluctant readers I know I have found it difficult at times to find a way to encourage my youngest son to read. He needed to build his reading, writing and comprehension skills, and yet the majority of books didn’t stir his interest. I had to search for the more unusual books to get him to read. I think Sleeper and The Red Storm fit into the bracket of letting younger readers experience the action packed creativity of a writer who doesn’t just want to tell them how the ugly duckling became a beautiful swan.

Do you think the book industry invests enough in books for younger readers that cross boundaries of imagination, creativity and outlandish theories? I don’t think I could comment on that because I don’t know enough about the children’s book market. However, I do know that middle-grade is a huge business and YA – in the UK – not so much. In the US, however, YA is massive.

I don’t want to give any of the many surprises, deaths and plot twists away, so I am going to try to keep the questions about the book as neutral as possible.

What made you pick this particular period in history? I loved the idea of a spy story set during the war without the war being the main focus. Also, I love the clothes, the cars and the lack of internet, social media and celebrity culture. What’s not to love about that?

Will seems to accept and forget the deaths of his comrades and friends very quickly. Is this part of his training or because of the trauma he has been through? Will spends his time on the run dodging bullets and fighting psychopaths and cold-blooded killers. His training has taught him resolve and his trauma has hardened it.

The concept for the actual Red Storm is akin to the biological weapons the world is threatened by in our era. Did you take inspiration for this from reality? Very much so. The threat of these type of weapons exist today and was close to my mind when I wrote it. I suppose this gives the books a modern twist.

What is the difference between the Will of Sleeper #1 and the Will of Sleeper #2: The Red Storm? The Will in book 1 is an amnesiac whose memory loss makes him question who he is. He believes himself to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old, however, deep inside him is a burning rage that he cannot explain. When he is in a life-threatening situation his first thought is to run. As the story progresses he learns more about his past and by the end of the book his rage has a focus.

The Will in Red Storm is the ‘Liberator’ and ‘Executioner’. (Readers of Sleeper will understand what this means). So, when it comes to VIPER he kills without remorse.

What’s next for Will and his band of merry people? (I have read the shocking ending of The Red Storm – there is no way you can just leave it there…). I’d say expect the unexpected. That’s all I’m saying.

Thank you for answering all of my questions. Thank you for hosting me.

Review

The Red Storm is the sequel to the successful dystopian action thriller Sleeper. There is definitely a notable change in Will in this book. He appears to be more ruthless and less inclined to dither in the pool of emotions. People fall to the side, die and disappear, and yet Will glosses over each event, because his eye is on his goals.

There is a new dangerous threat in this book. At first Will thinks his enemies are talking in some kind of strange code when they reference a storm coming, until he encounters the Red Storm in person, then he realises just how big the threat is.

Meanwhile as Will is set on his own course and targets, the reader finds out what is happening to his sister. The story of Rose is disturbing, especially when it comes to the procedures she has to go through. She is so important to the enemy camp that they are willing to go to any length to get what they want, regardless of her young age.

I am not going to go into any more details, so you can discover this highly explosive and fast-paced read for yourselves. It is a read I would recommend to readers who are looking for an author who is able to combine a multitude of genres and create a new exciting read.

The action is cranked up even higher in this book, which I didn’t think was possible after Sleeper, but Fennell brings even more to the table this time. He also ends the book on one heck of a cliffhanger, which means we will probably…hopefully be reading more about Will in the future.

It’s a complex dystopian action thriller with the vibe of a war and spy novel. It ‘s non-stop action from start to finish – it’s one hell of a ride.

Buy Sleeper: The Red Storm at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: The Dome Press, pub. date 25 Oct. 2018

Read my review of Sleeper book #1 Buy Sleeper

Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

moon-chosenThe beginning is a little vague on specifics or rather too specific on the dystopian world building, but with no info to go on. It takes a while to be able to see through the maze of branches and groups of new world people, and comprehend the plot.

All I can say is, stick with it. A few chapters in it starts to make a lot more sense and becomes quite an interesting read.

Moon Chosen is set in a world after technology and long after the destruction of society as we know it now. The surviving humans have split into different groups with their own newly built structures and rules. Unfortunately they all view each other as mortal enemies. The Tree people hunt and enslave the Earth Walkers and the Skin Eaters aren’t fussy they will kill and eat anyone.

Mari is a hybrid of two groups, a fact her mother keeps well hidden, because it also means she will be accepted by neither if they discover the truth.

The book is filled with the magic pulled from natural resources, such as the sun, the moon and the earth. The only thing left to rely on when all else has dwindled to to dust and ruin.

There are some tough scenes, which put the book towards the older end of YA for me. Gang rape puts it more in the sub-genre of NA, as far as I am concerned.

The epilogue seems to introduce a further story in the series with a character who just stumbles in towards the end. The emphasis appears to be on single characters and their animal counterparts, which is a shame. I do think the story Cast has built up in Moon Chosen is vast enough to be developed further without throwing in random mate selections whether they be human or not. More dystopian world and less urban fantasy methinks.

Buy Moon Chosen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

the-thousandth-floorIt was actually quite amusing, because I had to keep reminding myself of the beginning and where the story was supposed to be heading. It starts off with a dramatic fall, suicide, accident or death and ends the same way. There is so much drama in the middle that it just slipped my mind completely.

It’s a pity the premise is more of Gossip Girl scenario, because McGee has some really interesting ideas. The towers and the caste structure are worth exploring in more depth. Then there is the Nadia the quant, both this and the futuristic communication in combination with the world-building is quite fascinating.

What it comes down to in the end is rich people vs poor people and the ex-rich who want to be rich again, because they hate being poor. Oh and girlfriend and boyfriend trouble. Nothing too complex. Again, such a contradiction in the mixture of ideas. A bit like creating a complex void structure and then filling it completely with candy floss.

Even in the future the young still seek a high and spend all their time worrying about their love lives. So much for advanced technology and spectacular development. I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact humans will always be shallow entities no matter how many centuries into the future.

Buy The Thousandth Floor at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Crown by Keira Cass

The CrownThis is part #5 of The Selection series and again I have to say I can totally understand why the series is popular with younger readers.

I’m not sure how it gets away with the YA sub-genre title though, because for me it is written in a middle-grade way. The whole style, vibe and even the names of the characters. Making them up as she goes along and just adding random letters together.

It’s infantile and something I would expect from a newbie. Oh hey Mr Blobby its Mr Coddly. It’s detrimental to the story.  I have said this before though about this particular author and her writing in this series.

In this book Eadlyn has to step up to the plate and become the ruler she will eventually become anyway. She does try to connect to the people, bless her little heart. Of course being a dab hand at politics and communication is in direct contradiction to the selection going on for her future spouse.

The few that are left are dropping like flies, so the final choice is just around the corner. Watch out for the underdog sneaking through the royal bushes is all I’m going to say.

The premise is more or less the Bachelorette or Bachelor with younger contestants, better clothes and cheesier dialogue. The Crown isn’t on par with the beginning of the series, so perhaps it’s time to lay it to bed. It may just have run its course.

Buy The Crown at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

insurgentAs I have mentioned before I am a little late to the series, despite having the books in the house for ages. I must say I have enjoyed the read then again I am a sucker for dystopian settings.

This is the second part in the Divergent series. You can definitely see the influence this series has had on other books and vice versa. Also the obvious parallels to the Hunger Games (HG was released first). It’s an eclectic mixture of dystopian and sci-fi.

I believe the two series have given YA dystopian literature a huge platform, whilst inspiring many other authors to bend the boundaries of this particular genre.

The Tris in this book is a bit of an emotional wreck. A wet blanket who acts without thinking and spends a lot of time doubting her choices. Gone is the strong sense of survival from the first book.

In my review of the first part I mentioned how I felt the compulsory love match took away from the interesting dystopian plot. In this book their relationship is a wee bit on the rocky side.In fact Four does not seem to understand her at all.Their attitudes and decisions are incompatible, although one could argue that Four has just been really good at hiding his real intentions.

It is a typical in between book. A lot of information to fill in the blanks and set up the last book. The first sets up the story, the second gives us an overall view on the situation and the last one is the culmination of the revolution.

Definitely a series both younger and older readers will enjoy

Buy Insurgent at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Divergent, the first in the Divergent Trilogy series by Veronica Roth.

The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

map of bonesThis is the second in the Fire Sermon series, a dystopian tale set a few hundred years after the nuclear destruction or devastation of earth.A DNA mutation caused by the radiation of the initial blast has caused a splintering of the population.

Each pregnancy is a set of twins, one of which is born with some kind of mutation, ergo the lesser of the two. They are called the Omega and the perfect twin is called the Alpha.

The twins are connected via a life-bond. If one dies the other automatically dies the same way. The Alphas reject their twins, and so does society.

I’m sure if it wasn’t for the pesky ‘if I die you die’ element of their sibling relationship, the majority of the Alphas would just kill their Omega sibling. Instead the Alphas have found a variety of nefarious methods to rid themselves of their ‘broken’ other halves without actually killing them. Might as well be though.

The Omegas have built a network of resistance across the country, and despite the really bad odds are still trying to outwit the Alphas. They are also trying to find out whether there is anyone else out there in the big world. Literally in the Elsewhere.

Cass is still reeling from the shocking revelations about Kip and his demise. As a seer she is both a pariah to her peers and a beacon of hope. They need her to have visions, but are frightened of them at the same time.

The Fire Sermon series is an eclectic mix of post-nuclear devastation, dystopian world-building and the usual YA tropes. Some of the topics sail pretty close to what could become a reality if we are ever faced with a nuclear disaster on a major scale. Underground bunkers, the aftermath of the destruction the inevitable changes or mutations caused by radiation. A good read.

Buy The Map of Bones at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergentAdmittedly I am late to this series, but hey better late than never.  I actually bought all the books in the series for one of my children. I have just never found the time to read them.

I can definitely see the influence this book has had on other authors and vice versa. Also the obvious parallels to the Hunger Games (HG was released first). It’s an eclectic mix of dystopian and sci-fi.

The inevitable romance element kind of messed up the intricate dystopian idea a wee bit, but then it’s become an ‘expected’ part of YA books.

Society is split into factions, each being known for certain personality aspects. Being selfless, not telling lies or being recklessly brave. Then at a certain age they have to choose their life faction, after being accessed which one they are most suited for.

There is also another option, however it is also the option that pegs people as possible rebels.Those with no clear affiliation can think beyond boundaries and rules.They question the norm. It makes them a danger to leadership.

Aside from the huge secret Tris carries around with her she also has to deal with the violent and competitive ways of her new faction. Not good enough and you end up a nobody, too good and the others want to get rid of you. It isn’t exactly a welcoming environment. Friends become enemies and trust is a thing of the past.

An interesting start to the series, although I hope the emphasis is on the dystopian element rather than her love life.

Buy Divergent at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth.