Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ARC Review: False Future - Dan Krokos

False Future
Dan Krokos
Series: False Memory #3
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Rick Riordan x Veronica Roth
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I have come full circle! Around a month ago, Disney Hyperion mailed me False Future and I promised to review it. I flew through False Memory, hooked but a little hesitant, and I was slightly shaky about False Sight, what with its insanely winding, borderline absurd plotline. Nevertheless, Dan Krokos has proven one thing: he knows how to end a series.

And oh my gods he ends it so well.

Plot-wise, the book begins as expected, with the our clone gang prepping for war. Noble, Sophia, Rhys, and Peter are the characters we have left. (Silent moment for Noah, Olivia, etc.)

Miranda's back! Within the first ten pages. It would have been a massive twist not to bring Miranda back, so this was expected. However, it doesn't feel cheap as, by now, death isn't a final in these novels. I liked the touch of guilt that the other characters express when they choose to bring her back, though, knowing the impact the newly war-torn world will have on her. It gives a kind of substance to death that is usually painfully absent from stories where characters are written back to life often(see Supernatural seasons six and onward). Even Miranda, whose been revived as she is twice, knows it's more complicated than it is often made out to be:
"Does it matter how many times I come back to life? It has to." (Krokos, 60). 
Then the book starts to delve into the heavier action material, where Krokos's grip on suspense, phraseology, and choreography shine.

When the action ebbs for a moment, I love that Krokos branches out, allowing humor and characterization, mainly through dialogue, to drive the story until another fight scene, like when Rhys and Miranda bring back a couple of invader clones and are pepping to interrogate them:
"We should let them wake up on -- " Rhys begins, but my slap across M-96's face interrupts him. "Or we could do that." (49) 
Krokos has stacked the odds so strongly against our protagonists that there is automatic tension and suspense in the novel, as readers try to cling on to the hope that is, at the beginning of the book, non-existent. This is mostly due to the insurmountable force of the villains, the Originals (or the Originals' Originals' Originals' etc) of "True Earth" and their army. Krokos knows how to write a crushing villain.
"Take heart citizens of New York. This is not your end." (35)
The invading army from True Earth is terrifyingly relaxed, almost clinical in their actions. A polite predator, like Hannibal.

But true to the first two novels, Krokos pours suspension and tension into this novel as if it were the last thing he could possibly do. There's so much tension that one of the driving forces of tension from the first novels (memory shots) is completely overshadowed by the hell-hole our characters are in now.

The narrative beelines through dramatic scenes and mini-climaxes until we get to the holy crap moment. Which, of course, happens within the first few chapters. Olivia, the original Olivia, reveals dark secrets to our Miranda, which fuels the novel. (And, dare I say, the reader, because I burned through these pages with reckless abandon). And then it happens again. And again. The plot unravels the mythology, or, for clarity, if Krokos's mythology was a house, he flung a tornado full of plot twists at it.

There are a few drawbacks to this, however, in that I felt overloaded with new information. Miranda and the director are what??? And then: Wait so the future is whaaaattt?? And CAN THEY REALLY BRING HER BACK?

Krokos does well to allow these twists to settle in, but I feel as though the velocity of the pulsing plot only allowed for brief moments to take in anything.

The end is undoubtedly controversial. Miranda still makes incredibly dark choices. Innocent people still die. Miranda's last line might even seem entirely selfish:
"Finally, we have the rest of our lives." 
At least, selfish was what I initially thought, until I considered the novel at a greater depth than its prequels.

Throughout False Future, though, Krokos gives attention to characterization that was slightly lacking in the second novel, and, to an extent, the first, and allows it to function as a secondary drive alongside the plot.

For instance, when Rhys and Miranda attack another pair of Roses early on (around chapter 5, they check to see if they'd accidentally killed them. Their humanity and empathy are kept intact throughout a gruelling war between universes when it would be so easy to be merciless. In this way, Krokos keeps our protagonists from being like their enemies, and justifying our sympathies for their plight. It's just damn good writing.

And one scene, which I'm sure few people can skim over, is just painful. After sneaking into the Verge (even buildings can be written back to life, I suppose) under the guises of the Roses they interrogated, they find themselves facing a Peter, Noah, and Olive, the members of their team that are missing. These are members of another team, but in this moment they are humanized. The enemy isn't the eyeless, or the spiders, which can do nothing but kill, but it's these people. In Miranda's words:
"It's so familiar it hurts." (71)
This focus on characterization often lends double meaning to words, especially these last lines. For me, "we have the rest of our lives" is not an invocation from the first novel's Miranda, who desperately wanted a normal life, it's from a Miranda who knows she can never wipe the slate clean for herself, who has been taught by the impossibly difficult decisions she's had to make. It's a shout to the dark that the final scene is a small, but beautiful, victory in itself.

But I can't explain it myself. That last chapter will thaw your freezing, broken heart (thanks Krokos) like Elsa's at the end of Frozen!

There are some errors with the science side of False Future. And no, this isn't a critique of the Sci-Fi aspect, because that would be nonsense in a Sci-Fi book. Rhys, trying to comfort Miranda early on, deals out the loveable "we are clones of ourselves" line. While the fact remains that most of our cells are replaced within ten years, the fact remains that it's only most cells. For examples, neurons in the cerebral cortex are never replaced, they simply die out. This doesn't affect the novel much because Krokos usually is correct on these points, and even so, one factual error is not enough to overturn a thrilling end to a series, especially when said from a character rather than from an authorial voice.

All in all, well done Mr. Krokos, and special thanks to Disney Hyperion for making this happen!

- Marlon

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