What Happens if a Teenager with a God Complex has an Army that Worships Her? The Threat Below by Jason Latshaw Shows You!
I won this book in a giveaway and the author was kind enough to send the 500-paged book all the way to Pakistan. This is why, I started scribbling on the book when I started to read it, so that I did it justice.
The first annotation that I added:
Ten pages in and discrimination has already raised its ugly head!
The only people who survive the disaster that kills everybody else are now living on top of a mountain since the rest of the world has turned hostile. Among them, the Cognates are the thinkers and thus more superior to the Veritas who are doers. The discriminatory status is quite clear right from the start. It is also very much a part of the female protagonist, Icelyn. She may have feelings for a boy who belongs to the class of Veritas but the discrimination is so deeply ingrained that it is plain to see.
Which brings me to Icelyn's character. She is self-absorbed to such an extreme that you keep thinking she couldn't possibly be any more so. You'd be wrong! That's because the girl who already has a god complex discovers a whole sect of creatures who worship her! I could go on and on about her character flaws. Instead, I will let this highly useful post do it for me. It talks about how NOT to write teenage characters.
Icelyn was not a very likeable person. She discriminated, had a superiority complex, and vacillated between feeling a child who needs her parents to protect her at certain times and takes over the Mountain and kicks her father off the throne. But most of all, she was a master manipulator. She was as good as her ancestor, who had created the monsters, had been at manipulation. She could make them believe that she loved them and then order them to their deaths! Even with all that, there is no character growth when it comes to Icelyn.
The second thing I noticed was the author's penchant for adding details in parentheses. So many of these details came off as afterthoughts that they might have added during editing. It sounded like they wanted to explain away any doubts the reader have about the story.
On the other hand, certain things that require explanation are lacking it. Adorane using squirrels to send messages inscribed on nuts is one instance. Where did he learn to do that? How did he train the squirrels? Why are we just hearing of this? Why is it never mentioned again?
It was then while reading seventh chapter that I got to the biggest issue that I had with the book: jumping points of view (PoVs). They jump enough to give you whiplash. You had to keep guessing which character is doing the talking!
In case, you have started to think that this book is not for you, these beautiful pieces of writing from it might change your mind:
"I could even live in the Lost Labyrinth -- the vast unmapped mines that the Kith dug over the centuries, endlessly searching for metals and minerals. They could use a good haunting, and I could be a lost soul aimlessly wandering."
"On the western side of our Mountain, a giant stretch of blue -- the ocean!-- goes on as far as I can see. This water's alive and angry in places, rising up and slapping the land where they meet, and then retreating to gather energy and do it again. Where the shore and water collide, waves explode into pure white, bursting into the sky like a celebration."
"Fear is the most elegant weapon Your hands are never messy, Threatening bodily harm is crude. Work, instead on minds and beliefs, play insecurities like a piano. Be creative in approach. Force anxiety to excruciating levels or gently undermine the public confidence. Panic drives herds over cliffs. When nothing is safe, sacred, or sane, there is no respite from horror. Absolutes are quicksilver. Results are spectacular."
"If I invented a god, he would carry a flare or a lamp or something more magical than a hammer. I wonder, does Ad's god tote a hammer, or some other tool? Maybe a mixer or a chopper. Never know when a god might need to mix or chop something."
"No! They were machines. They had engines that drew energy from a liquid called gasoline. Believe or not, gasoline was the liquefied remains of monsters who has died millions of years ago, called Dinosaurs." Yeah, may be just a tad exaggerated but fun to read. How would we describe our technology to someone from the past (or a post-apocalyptic future)? Would they even believe us or act like Icelyn did:
"Machines drinking the liquefied corpses of giant lizards so that they can carry people around inside, as if they're grand wheelbarrows come alive? What ever could be considered fanciful about that?"
I think I found an allusion to The Hobbit in the book. Icelyn compares the many colored fishes to treasure in this words: (Apriori are the people who had been alive before the disaster took place.)
"Belubus uses to read an ancient book to me, written for Apriori children, about a great hidden treasure guarded by a giant dragon."
Another thing that I wanted to share was a scene that stayed with me. It described what happened after the monsters who had brought about the apocalypse had killed for the first time. They ate the woman's (Shai's) flesh and then:
"Amp hangs the husk of Shai on the wall, from a hook where Mister Sean would often place his coats."
After reading the description of the monsters or Threatbelows, I imagined they would look like this:
Amp would be different and look like this guy:
This is how I imagined Omathius would be:
All of them had sharp claws and Icelyn's ice blue eyes:
There are cute illustrations at the beginning of each chapter that tell you where the events are taking place:
I was reading the reviews for the book on Goodreads and found an opinion that I completely agree with. It also sums my review beautifully: