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Following war and environmental catastrophe, the remnants of humanity are left to either struggle and slowly starve based on the rules and whims of the militarized brutality of the Authority, or become crazed loners scavenging the wastelands and succumbing to disease, mutation, or violence. Those who choose neither ally themselves with rebel encampments who are determined to become stewards of the land and rehabilitate it for both themselves and the sparse wildlife still managing to inhabit it.

Their secret weapons: one of the last known nests of pollinating honeybees and a pair of young adults named X and Y; the last surviving members of a data retrieval mission meant to take down the Authority once and for all. Unbeknownst to them, they’re getting pulled into a danger far deeper than they realize as the stolen data also contains secret plans for a calamitous mutiny from a renegade Authority leader named General Speer.

While the Rebellion may have the planet’s best interests at heart, the General is ready and willing to watch it all burn for total and absolute control over what remains of society.

With side characters straight out of a heroic quest encyclopedia and an action-packed plot that just won’t quit, Critical Habitat proves itself to be thoroughly entertaining and highly re-readable, which is more than I usually dare to hope for with the abundance of apocalyptic fiction out there, much of it aimed toward young adult readers. Picking one up from an author you’ve never heard of can be an exercise in caution at best, and straight-up reluctance at worst.

It’s a good thing that Terrence King knows what he’s doing because Critical Habitat is both imaginative and wholly original. Unlike either the watered-down and formulaic apocalyptic fiction popular with teenage audiences or the seemingly never-ending bleak hopelessness geared toward adults, King manages to take the best of both approaches while adding a healthy dose of heroic science fiction flair that makes it difficult to compare with anything else in the genre.

Told from multiple points of view with each individual storyline converging in a cataclysmic final showdown, and a high-octane plot full of betrayal, intrigue, redemption, and hope, this book has it all. So if you’re hesitant read another bleak iteration of The Road or yet another carbon copy of The Hunger Games but still want a little stark realism meets heroic adventure with your apocalyptic fiction, then Critical Habitat is the book for you.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 268 pages
Publisher Penguins & Ducks Press
Publish Date 14-Nov-2023
ISBN 9798988120926 Buy this Book
Issue July 2023
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy