Today I’m reviewing Rebecca Belliston’s latest novel, Citizens of Logan Pond: Life. As part of the blog tour, Rebecca is hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of the book, plus a $25 Amazon gift card (enter below).
About the Book:
Her home. Her parents. Her freedom. Gone.
His dreams. His sister. Himself. Lost.
The economy crashed, the country is floundering, and Carrie Ashworth struggles to keep her siblings alive. She has two jobs in her newly-formed, newly-outlawed clan: growing crops to feed thirty-six people, and keeping Oliver Simmons, their local patrolman, happy. Carrie’s life is almost content when Greg Pierce shows up. A man with the ambition to help them survive. A man determined to hate her.
When a government raid nearly wipes out their clan, Greg realizes the true reason behind their safety. Patrolman Simmons has fallen for Carrie. Greg takes it upon himself to give the socially-awkward patrolman what he wants. Only Carrie doesn’t like Greg throwing her in Simmon’s path, especially when Greg’s brusque exterior melts, and she catches a glimpse of the real man underneath. Carrie is forced to choose: follow her heart or save her clan. Life won’t let her choose both.
Belliston’s dystopian world is created not by nuclear war or a killer virus. Instead, the US economy has crashed, hard. The dollar is worthless, banks have failed, and the private sector has disappeared. The book’s prologue is set as the collapse is completing it devastation and the government has run out of ideas.
The heroine, Carrie, is seventeen during the collapse. She, her parents, and two siblings have thus far followed government orders, including being herded into a small apartment with a bunch of other families. But then the food doles stop, for all the families except one—another family with a pretty teenage daughter. It’s a sad fact of history that when women are desperate and hungry, those of the right age always have something they can sell. Thinking mostly of Carrie, her parents decide to move back to their old neighborhood, even though doing so is technically illegal.
The rest of the book picks up five years later, and society is still struggling. There are several different groups of people: government employees, who are paid or at least given food and a place to live; “blue-card” people dependent on the government and treated like slaves; “yellow-card” citizens, people who owned their home free and clear before the collapse and who can still vote in mock elections and are generally left alone if they can pay their taxes (even though all the banks where they might have savings no longer exist); and illegals, people who don’t want to give up their freedom, so they try to survive without being caught and shipped off to government farms or factories.
Both Carrie’s parents have died, so she’s taking care of her younger siblings and living in her old neighborhood (Logan Pond) with about thirty other people. The group have formed a community that doesn’t exactly thrive, but they manage. They have an extensive garden, the men hunt, and they find ways to trade for the things they really need.
But living without an income and without stores isn’t their only challenge. They also have to watch out for government raids, since they’re technically living on government-possessed property. Usually, they all run to the one “yellow-card” home in the neighborhood (owned by citizens May and CJ) whenever there’s a government sweep or raid, but those are few thanks to a friendly patrolman, Oliver.
Oliver is the group’s biggest asset. It’s his job to arrest everyone accept the older couple (maybe them too since they’re helping illegals), but instead he turns a bind eye. Unlike most government workers who thrive on power and corruption, when Oliver comes across people who aren’t hurting anyone, he prefers to leave them alone. He also had a big crush on Carrie.
Things change when May and CJ’s daughter, Mariah, and grandson, Greg, travel illegally to Logan Pond. May’s dream is to play matchmaker with her grandson and Carrie, but that naturally makes things incredibly awkward. Then there’s the complication with Oliver—will he still protect the clan if Carrie is dating someone else? Carrie finds herself in a difficult dilemma. She hasn’t previously had any romantic interest in Oliver, but some of the other clan members pressure her to do anything she needs to do to keep him happy. It’s the very thing her parents hoped she wouldn’t have to face when they moved back to Logan Pond. (It’s fairly light—talk of flirting and dating rather than anything more serious, at least with most of the clan members.)
Not all of the characters were likeable, but they were realistic. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to hard times. Amber, Carrie’s 16-year old sister, started off a little self-centered (a self-centered teenager, imagine that), but she grew as the book progressed. It took a while for me to like Greg, but his strengths eventually shone past his initial gruffness.
I think some of Belliston’s previous books were LDS fiction. This one is clean, but there weren’t any overt religious elements. I was actually thinking this would be a good choice for book clubs. The plot moved quickly enough for readers who enjoy action, the dystopian world was full of challenges to keep the characters busy, and there was enough romance for those who enjoy the beginnings of a love story. I could see some great discussion about preparation for emergencies, maintaining good values in hard times, and finding a balance between doing what’s best for oneself and doing what’s best for others.
This is the first book in a trilogy. It wasn’t a cliffhanger ending, but I didn’t feel like there was complete closure either. The view was fairly local in the first book, but the blurb for the next book (Liberty) promises a more regional view. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Overall, I recommend this if the concept sounds like something you’d enjoy. I enjoyed it enough to nominate it for a Whitney Award.
The giveaway is for a signed copy of Citizens of Logan Pond: Life, and a $25 gift card. It’s a Rafflecopter giveaway.
About the Author:
Rebecca Lund Belliston is the author of the romantic suspense novel, SADIE, its sequel, AUGUSTINA, and a new trilogy, CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND. Besides writing fiction, she loves to compose music, teach piano, and read. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. You can follow her through her Website, Facebook Page, Twitter (@rlbelliston), and Pintrest, (@rlbelliston).
*I received a digital copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Great review! I really liked this book too and can’t wait for the next one to come out. The characters did all react differently to the challenges of surviving in this dystopian world, and the story made me question what I would do in the same situation (and hoping I never have to find out for real).
Char, it made me think a lot too. How many vegetables could I grow in my back yard? How quickly can I pay off my mortgage? Could I figure out how to cook bread in a dutch oven before I ran out of charcoal?
I’m also reading a book about the siege of Leningrad during WWII (more people starved to death there than died in both atomic bombs). Scary stuff. And sad what hunger does to people. Would I survive something like that? Would I want to survive if I had to become a monster in order to do so?
My husband and I have these discussions all the time. Would I let others starve to keep my food to keep only my family alive? He says yes (since he’s speaking from provider role) and I say No, I don’t want to live if I have to watch others die around me. I would want to share with close neighbors kind of like Carrie’s community in this book, and if we all run out, we die together.
Yes, those are some of the things I was thinking about. My husband said if people are desperate enough, they’ll steal our food anyway, so we might as well share. But some scenarios are so hard. During the Leningrad siege, one lady told of the time when a neighbor begged for some food for her dying child. But the woman knew if she gave the little food she had away, her sick mother would die. So hard! I hope I never have to live through times like that.