Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review for The Safe Lands Trilogy by Jill Williamson

I have found a dystopian series to love!

Usually, I am not really a fan of dystopian books. Not because they don't interest me, because in spite of myself I almost always get drawn into the world of "What if?" and "How would I survive?" and "What choice would I make?". No, my problem with dystopias is the fact that I have to trudge through so much despair and the ending is hardly ever worth it. The main characters make decisions that are morally questionable at best and somehow the reader is supposed to accept the decision as the only thing that character could have made. Or, it is clear that it is the wrong choice, but the consequences are either unclear, or I spend the rest of the book reading about the negative consequences and there is no redemption at the end. Many times I am left dissatisfied and unclear about the overall message of the book.

However, I can get behind Jill Williamson's version of dystopia.  The Safe Lands trilogy contains admirable yet authentic characters, difficult decisions with realistic consequences, and a very clear message of hope and redemption.  The trilogy is available as an e-book set on Amazon Kindle.



The Safelands Trilogy: My Review


Have you ever felt trapped by your own culture? Have you ever wanted to escape so badly you would do anything? Have you ever struggled to discern the truth amidst the lies your culture tells you? If so, I challenge you to read The Safelands trilogy.
The Safelands trilogy follows the journeys of three brothers, Levi, Mason, and Omar. Each of them has a unique personality and set of struggles. Levi, the oldest and favorite of their father, is a strong hunter who feels a strong sense of responsibility toward his clan. Mason, the brainiac thinker, is a doctor-in-training, with a strong moral compass. Omar, the artist, with feelings that run deep, has never felt like he belonged in his family.
In the first book, Captives, Omar betrays his family and village to bring them to The Safelands, thinking he will finally gain recognition by improving their lives. Mason, works to find a cure for the plague that infects the people of the Safelands. Levi sets out to free the women who have been taken captive to bear children for the Safelands.
In the second book, Outcasts, the brothers work together with a rebel group, The Outcasts, to rescue the children who are being held in the boarding school. Levi struggles to forgive Omar and adjust to his new role as Elder of Glenrock. Omar struggles with addiction, shame, and the feeling that he is worthless. Mason struggles with his ever-growing attachment to the Safelands medic, Ciddah, knowing he cannot trust her. Meanwhile, Shaylinn, a girl from Glenrock, learns the identity of her unborn children’s father.
In the third and final book, Rebels, Mason and Omar find out what it means to be “liberated” by the Safelands, as well as some other secrets the government did not want them to know. Levi continues to work with the underground Outcast group to expose the Safelands government. Shaylinn is about to give birth to twins.
Jill Williamson does a fantastic job of creating her fictional worlds and her true-to-life characters. I could identify with every major character in this series on one level or another. As the oldest child of four, I could identify with the pressure Levi felt to take care of his tribe and his family. As a peace-maker who wants everyone to get along, I could identify with Mason as he mediated between his two brothers. As for Omar, I could identify with his desire to be loved and appreciated despite his differences. More than anything, I kept reading to see him succeed and find redemption.
The Safelands series deals with addiction, teen pregnancies, and temptation in a true but tactful way. Every character is faced with difficult choices and they experience very real consequences to the decisions they make, good or bad. That said, what I appreciate most about Williamson’s writing is that she weaves a thread of hope throughout these stories, letting her readers know that there is grace and forgiveness for everyone.
The Safelands trilogy is an important read for today’s teenager. It contains well-written characters, true-to-life situations, and a strong message of grace and redemption. I would recommend this book to teen and adult fans of Williamson’s Blood of Kings trilogy, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and anyone who enjoys dystopian or speculative fiction.