Zooloo's Book Tours | Exiles by Daniel Blythe
Now Daniel Blythe is a new name to me, and I had not previously read any of his books. So, in light of this I thought I would join the tour in order to see what the book was like. I do like a new author. However, not knowing much about Daniel Blythe I decided to have a bit of a look at his credentials, and I have got to say that as soon as I saw that Dr Who was involved, I was like ‘Okay, let’s get down to it bopper!’
ABOUT THE BOOK
In a distant galaxy, Bethany Kane has cheated death.
Now, she has to fight for life.
In an escape pod launched from a great starship, 15-year-old ChapterSister Bethany Aurelia Kane, believer in the Great Power, makes landfall on a windswept world known as The Edge – a planet light years from civilisation.
Battered and shaken, Beth soon finds she is not alone. The Edge is a penal colony where, under the leadership of Zachary Tal, fifty juvenile criminals and reprobates have pulled together a kind of society. They are living and working together in Town, a converted scientific base in the shadow of their crashed
Exiles takes place on a planet at the very edge of the galaxy with a disparate group of young people. There are no adults in the group and the oldest of the group seems to be seventeen, maybe eighteen.
The children eke out an existence on tech that is recycled from an old research station and anything that they can salvage. The group are abandoned on a hostile planet, fighting vicious wildlife and an equally brutal landscape. They have no hope of rescue and are effectively dumped on this harsh, uncaring planet.
Things change when out of the blue, a new member, Bethany Kane crash lands on the planet. Beth, as she is called in the story, claims to be the sole survivor of the colony ship Arcadia. However suspicion falls upon her when there is no sign of any wreckage, other than the emergency escape pod that she lands in, and it doesn’t seem to make any sense to the group of teenagers that there is no sign of the disaster that she describes taking place in the atmosphere above the planet.
Taking Bethany back to the place that they call home. The rescue party take her to Town, the place that they have established that the group of miscreants and criminals call home.
The group decide that she can stay and as Beth begins to adapt to life on the planet we follow her story and see if she is accepted into the group.
Soon, strange things start to happen. At first seemingly unrelated! However, a violent and shocking act occurs that has an impact on the survivors and soon suspicion falls onto the one that thing that has changed since they were abandoned on the planet, the outsider, Beth!
This book definitely takes you by surprise by taking you in directions that you were not expecting. There is an element of Lord of the Flies initially, when we have the group of teenagers fending from themselves. We see how they have established a society and the rules that they have introduced to keep order. At first, the group seem to have very few rules and it seems to be a survival of the fittest kind of society. However, it is not ling into the book that you realise that the group have established laws and rules, that whilst appear harsh, stave off anarchy as the group have come to realise that following this route can lead to their destruction.
The group have used their expertise to form something that resembles society. Making use of the old and unreliable tech and capitalised on their skills to form and establish a working settlement.
It is interesting to see the effects of the new member of the group has on the power dynamics of the structure of the group. To see how a different perspective quickly has an effect on the established cohesiveness of the teenagers.
In the midst of this, Daniel Blythe slowly introduces tension. It creeps in at first and centres primarily on how the group manage to adapt to a stranger. However, you soon sense that there is a feeling of unease, that something is not quite right. He subtly manages to wrongfoot you to believing that the story is about the teenagers, but there are some seemingly random passages that are at the end of chapters that start to inform you that there is something more going on.
The structure of the book is interesting too. Whilst there is a coherent narrative throughout the book, it feels very episodic. The book is cut into chapters that are further segmented and you particularly got the feeling that this is where the natural breaks should be.
The characters are interesting, and Daniel Blythe makes them complex and interesting. They are full of flaws and feel completely real. The only flaw that I found was that there was quite a lot of side characters and at times I did have problems recalling some of the side characters.
In addition to this, Daniel Blythe does a brilliant job of bring the world around the teenagers to life. You get the feeling of the harshness and the inhospitableness of the environment that the teenagers are living in. You get the feeling of the abandonment that they feel.
I totally recommend this book. Whilst it initially feels like it is a tale of lost boys and girls fighting against the elements, it totally blind sides you to bring in other fantastic elements.
Author BioDaniel Blythe was born in Maidstone and attended Maidstone Grammar School and St John's College, Oxford, then Christ Church University, Canterbury. As well as being a writer he has worked as a tour guide, a languages tutor, a translator, a Lifelong Learning development worker and a tutor of Creative Writing.
He is the author of several novels for children and adults, as well as a writer of non-fiction on subjects as diverse as popular music, politics, collecting gadgets and games, parenting and the history of robotics. He has written several of the official Doctor Who books licensed by the BBC, including Autonomy. Daniel's first book with a teenage narrator was The Cut, which was followed by further novels Losing Faith and This is the Day. In 2012 his first supernatural fantasy novel for young readers, Shadow Runners, was published. Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones (for age 9-12) was published in 2015 and a sequel Emerald Greene: Instruments of Darkness in 2017. He has written shorter 'reluctant reader' books called New Dawn, I Spy (nominated for the Leicester Reading Rampage Award 2018), Fascination, Kill Order, Hope and Truth and Kiss the Sky.
Daniel has worked as a visiting author in over 400 schools, and has taught on the MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. He now mentors, advises and edits writers of all ages through Cornerstones UK and the Faber Academy and is a regular judge on the Novel Slam for the 'Off The Shelf' festival. Daniel lives in the Peak District, with his wife and their two student children.
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