(This review was originally published 08/31/2019)
It’s not often that a reading slump takes you so hard but when it does, it feels like nothing you read feels good, or worse, it drains your energy to even look at the page. Then, when you’ve abandoned hope entirely, something wonderful happens. You’re sparked by an intriguing, anime as fuck cover, with two steely-eyed bishonen who are on a mission. Gorgeous art, great premise and the promise of a whole new world the moment you read the first page!
The best part, it was an indie author. I chose this one on my own guys, and she actually let me have that ARC!
As always, I never miss!
Welcome to the Cerebral Hedonist! I’m the Scholarly Squid and here comes a thought on:
From the breakout age of 19, Hurteau solidified her career as a cryptid by eloping from the east coast to South California with no idea what the hell she was doing but she was going to fucking figure it out. Much like her boys, improvisation and introversion seems to be her thing and its landed her in a small quiet town where her neighbors may tell you she exists but its suspect to urban legend. With a full house of five mini-cryptids and a passion for emotion connection through stories, Hurteau has decided to do her own thing in another adventure: self-publishing, giving me and the rest of the world the debut series: Antiquity’s Gate. In between kitties, mini-cryptids, and injections of caffeine, she is making it through this adventure one book and nervous quip at a time! I can’t wait!
Three Days Till Dawn is the intertwining of several seemingly mundane lives attempting to survive after a cataclysmic even which caused the mass death of the human race. Set in the Antarctic, the human race survives in a Domed city known as Sanctuary. They live alongside an elf-like alien race called the Theran whose technology saved the last them from extinction through a virus only known as the Sequencing – a strange virus that occurred upon the meeting of the Theran and the Humans through an extraterrestrial device called the Antiquity’s Gate. Much like many dystopias, it operates on a discriminatory hierarchy where blood matters and tensions are tight between the surviving humans and ruling Theran’s whom they owe their survival to. In this society that limits everything right down to childbirth, the Halfsies (half-human, half-Theran) are kept in the lowest caste and forbidden the rights of even human beings.
With all life dictated, Ripley Prior and his best friend Felix are set of young men attempting to get by in a world of no options. However, when Felix gets what should’ve been joyous news, it becomes a matter of doing the unthinkable: making a terrible sacrifice for the status quo or leaving Sanctuary…
Okay, I’m cool. I’m cool.
I fucking loved this book.
I have had so many disappointing reads that finding one that just gives me what I want is such a breath of fresh air that I can’t even describe it. Though this book is very much a Young Adult book and, for once, that is not to its detriment as others I have read. It knows its focus, it’s not trying to be more. It just lets the story happen. Even with the wide cast of characters, it rarely loses the plot as each have their own part in the story to play. Though if I had to pick who the weakest POV character is, I would say it has to be Sylvia as I wasn’t really given enough to become invested in her and her part of the story. Her POV felt more like subtle plot setup which did pay off later as I understood why certain events happened with her. There are a few weak points where it feels like the underlying resistance to the Theran feels abruptly introduced but the plot itself is fast-paced and intriguing enough to carry it through.
The best way to describe the plot is anime as fuck. It’s like reading the first arc of a shonen series and it ends neatly wrapped yet at the same time plenty of questions to carry you over into the next book – which I will be reading.
Let’s be real though. The true reason you’re going to want this book is for the characters.
From the beginning you’re given an intriguing prologue where you wonder just what the hell is going on and then are introduced to the best bros in the world, Ripley and Felix who honestly are some of the most well-rounded characters I’ve ever seen. Felix, while being a great comic relief, was still fully fleshed out, showed he wasn’t just a joker, and was surprisingly serious when it came down to it. I legit fell in love with him and his wife and Ripley? Well all I want is to protect Ripley from everything because he tries his best to be a good person and all he gets is the raw end of the world even when he does what he’s supposed to do. Boy needs a hot meal and a damn friend!
The chemistry between them really reflects two people who’ve been together through thick and thin and it comes organically. They don’t have to tell you they’re best friends, they just are. I can’t stress enough how well-done their characters are in this book and how well much their love for each other is shown.
My inner fan-squid just wants Ripley, Felix, and Willow to just live happily together forever.
I’m still upset because Hurteau is obviously a monster and enjoys hurting me.
Okay to the technical aspect. This is where I get a little more serious and tell you that this isn’t a profound piece of literature. It has plenty of flaws to it – though surprisingly there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this.
The pacing is very fast, which sometimes comes off as very rushed, especially at the end to where it feels more like tv episodes rather than a fully fleshed out written story. I wish there was a bit more time spent on fleshing out the culture of Sanctuary – though this is not to say it lacks this. There are plenty examples of Sanctuary functioning as a post-apocalyptic series, but in my opinion it could’ve been slowed down a bit to show a bit more of the Theran Council and/or Theran civilians and their interactions among the Humans and Halfsies to give us more of a view of the world from their standpoint. I can hope that Hurteau plans for this later because so far, all we’ve seen is the human side of things. I would love to hear more from their side and from Halfsies who are hated by both the Theran and Humans generally.
Also the very end felt a bit disjointed as things happened so fast that it didn’t quite run together smoothly (ie Sylvia’s mind changing after what happen to her brother off screen). I appreciate that it didn’t meander, but it definitely moved a little too fast.
I can praise Hurteau for her descriptions. They are not sprawling pages of expositional world building but rather filtered in easily with descriptions of Sanctuary as the characters actively experience it and I appreciate that the handholding is minimal. You aren’t bogged down in walls of texts about how a panel works or whatever. Still, I think there could’ve been more time devoted to the stakes behind the Tapestry and the motivations of the people within that organization as well as more than the sort of driveby introduction we’d gotten of the Weaver – though I get the feeling I met him sooner than I initially thought.
With having such a large array of characters about, some of them felt a mildly underdeveloped and only mildly flat as in not enough time was spent on their actions to let me know who they are. This is also something I believe Hurteau is going to cover as she continues on in Antiquity’s Gate.
Overall, this writing is not absolutely amazing, its fast and to the point. BUT, Hurteau has potential. As you read it, you can see the potential. See where there’s some serious talent in there which I feel would come out if it’d gone through perhaps one or two more drafts and maybe a bit more meat for the cast.
I predict that Hurteau is going to be a great indie Scifi-fantasy author and she’s going to keep getting better with each novel. I’m definitely going to find out and even if I’m wrong, I believe her stories are strong enough to let me enjoy the ride. All I can say is just slow down and let me love these characters. I’m so happy I reached out to her to get this arc and I want more than anything to continue to see where this goes. We stan Felix in this house and he better be allowed to be the good man he deserves to be.
In conclusion, Antiquity’s Gate Book 1 is the perfect quick read with a rich world, wonderful characters, and I believe would be perfect for manga and light-novel fans to get into on the western front. But most of all, it’s a cute YA that deserves attention within the book community!
It was released on August 27, 2019 and I’ve provided links to it below so please, check her out and enjoy her world as much as I have.
Stay Well-Read my Squidlies!
-Harli V. Park-
For More Reviews: The Well Read Squid
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