Age of Order Receives The Kirkus Star

**THE KIRKUS STAR is Awarded to Books of Exceptional Merit**

KIRKUS REVIEW

In North’s debut YA novel set in a violently divided, high-tech New York City, a poor girl enrolls in a Manhattan school that serves as an enclave for the fabulously rich, powerful, and dangerous.

An “Orderist” movement has given privilege and rank to those said to have the most “merit,” which include America’s wealthiest people. This state of affairs made California secede from the Union to become a rogue state; meanwhile, Manhattan, the new capital of the remaining 49, is a paradise of affluence for its chosen elite, with such fabulous luxuries as gene enhancements, gated communities, guardian drones, and self-driving taxis. The Bronx, meanwhile, is wretched, drug-ridden, and plague-filled. It’s also home to Daniela Machado, a fierce girl with phenomenal high school grades and impressive stats in track and field. She’s driven by a single-minded aim to attend a local medical school and fight “the Waste,” a mysterious, eventually fatal malady that’s slowly overtaking her political-agitator brother, Mateo. Unexpectedly, Daniela is granted a one-in-a-million chance to attend the Tuck School, a Manhattan academy for the best of the so-called “highborn.” She’s suspicious of the faculty’s motives and of the uber-handsome classmates around her, some of whom are friendly and welcoming, others not. She soon finds out that her predecessor apparently committed suicide, and she gets drawn into intrigue at the highest levels. There’s no shortage of YA sci-fi yarns that focus on the gap between haves and have-nots. But North’s entry is superlative, and his well-rendered setting is a more interesting conceit than Suzanne Collins’ similar Panem in The Hunger Games. Ultimately, what starts out as sort of a fish-out-of-water drama with sci-fi trappings becomes the story of a veritable clash of superbeings, but North maintains expert control over it, much as J.K. Rowling did in her Harry Potter sagas. The action scenes are deftly handled, as are the depictions of compelling, smart, multicultural characters. The background philosophy behind the Orderists also has a sinister verisimilitude (Aldous Huxley is cited, although Ayn Rand, curiously, is not). Both YA and adult readers will be transfixed by this novel, which works well as both a stand-alone and as a series opener.

A promising debut that re-energizes tropes in the dystopian sci-fi genre.

About Sarah Kloth

Sarah Kloth is a graduate of University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, accomplishing a Bachelors of Arts in Multimedia Digital Arts. Kloth currently works at a local advertising agency as a web developer / digital marketing director. She is the dystopian editor at Shelf Unbound Magazine with her column "Dystopian Fangirl". She currently resided in Milwaukee with her husband, cat and chocolate lab. Sarah drinks over 6 cups of tea a day and loves to get "arts and crafty" while jamming out to MMMbop.

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