Souls for the Master by John C. Adams
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Gerald Flint lives a charmed life in the Eastern Metropolis. A trainee surgeon, he has access to the finer things in life, medical care, country clubs, food, clean water. It makes ignoring the Master’s omnipotent control over every aspect of his life easier to bear. In the Western Metropolis, Ivy Spires knows the consequences of living outside of the Master’s favour. She wants a fairer life for all regardless of which side of the Metropolis they were born. But the Master has plans to handle the squalor of the West, a deadly virus that acts fast, and Gerald uncle, Captain Nicobar of the SS Antilles has found the perfect uninhabited island where the bodies can be destroyed.
Set in a dystopian future this YA novel follows Ivy and Gerald who form part of the resistance against the all-controlling Master. It is told through several different viewpoints, mainly Ivy and Gerald’s as well as Nicobar’s weaving together the on-the-ground resistance with a killer virus appearing on Nicobar’s ship.
I found myself conflicted. The parts about the virus, the spread to people who don’t appear to have any connection to the starting point, built tension steadily and I wanted more of those bits. Nicobar is the closest to being a free-thinking person under the Master’s control. He does what the Master wants because of the freedom of sailing, but ultimately, his responsibility is to his crew. I also enjoyed Gerald’s efforts to save the life of his childhood friend. Where I struggled was with the handling of romantic relationships.
There is a love triangle between Gerald, Ivy and her cousin, which in itself is fine. I have nothing against a good love triangle, except when it is brought into almost every conversation the characters have even if it isn’t relevant. The same build-up used for the virus wasn’t employed here, and Ivy and Gerald appeared to accept they were attracted to one another based on their biological response to seeing each other rather than their actions. However, they are both young, and hormones can play a dominant role in relationships, so it isn’t unbelievable.
If you’re a fan of YA dystopia, then there is plenty to enjoy, and it is also part of a series, book 2 Blackacre Rising, coming out September so you won’t be bereft of your favourite characters for long.