Book: Sulan Episode 1: The League
Author: Camille Picott
Source: Free from publisher, part of the Candace Book Promotions tour
Genre: YA Cyberpunk
Readability Rating: 3 stars
Morality Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Female adventure-lovers
Buy it: Amazon
Sulan Book Summary (from Amazon)
Sixteen-year-old Sulan Hom can’t remember life before the Default — the day the United States government declared bankruptcy. As a math prodigy, she leads a protected life, kept safe from the hunger and crime plaguing the streets of America. She attends the corporate-sponsored Virtual High School, an academy in Vex (Virtual Experience) for gifted children. Beyond the security of Sulan’s high-tech world, the Anti-American League wages a guerrilla war against the United States. Their leader, Imugi, is dedicated to undermining the nation’s reconstruction attempts. He attacks anything considered a national resource, including corporations, food storage facilities — and schools. When Sulan witnesses the public execution of a teenage student and the bombing of a college dorm, she panics. Her mother, a retired mercenary, refuses to teach her how to defend herself. Sulan takes matters into her own hands. With the help of her hacker best friend, Hank, Sulan acquires Touch — an illegal Vex technology that allows her to share the physical experience of her avatar. With Touch, Sulan defies her mother and trains herself to fight. When Imugi unleashes a new attack on the United States, Sulan finds herself caught in his net. Will her Vex training be enough to help her survive and escape?
About the Author
Camille Picott is a fifth-generation Chinese American. She writes science fiction and fantasy books with Asian characters and/or Asian settings. Camille grew up reading speculative fiction stories largely devoid of Asian characters and culture. This, coupled with a passion for her heritage, is the reason she strives to bring some aspect of Eastern myth, legend, culture, and ethnicity to all of her writings. To visit Camille, go to www.camillepicott.com.
What I Liked Most
Sulan is a tough girl, ready to do whatever she can to defend her home. I think the literary world could stand to have more strong female characters, so I was a big fan of Sulan and her mother. I also loved that Sulan works to solve problems both on her own and also with her parents. It’s nice to see a strong family bond in a YA book.
The length: I loved that this story was under 300 pages. I now believe that few books need to be longer than that!
Overall, there is plenty of action, science, and fun to make Sulan fun for any reader.
What I Liked Least
For a YA book, I found the writing too simplistic. I think my third grader could easily read all the words in this book. Personally, I like a bit more depth in YA books, but that is just a personal quirk of mine. If you remember, I had similar thoughts on Divergent. At any rate, if you don’t mind simpler writing, or even prefer it, then you will love how this book is put together.
In some instances, the characters seem a unrealistic in how good they are at everything. I tend to prefer characters with a little more flaws- but again, simply a personal preference. Children, I think, tend to prefer straight good/bad characters, so I don’t think young readers would have this issue.
Although the simple writing and sometimes “too cool” appearance of the characters makes Sulan feel like it would appeal best to young teens (perhaps even middle grade), it is refreshing to have a story where you can feel confident that good with triumph over evil. I love books with a science and technology theme- and cyberpunk is one of my favorite genres to read. I forgave the book its few flaws in respect for the strong characters, science-driven plot, and promotion of diversity. If you have a pre-teen or young teen girl in your house, or love cyperpunk yourself, give Sulan a try!