Tuesday, 8 November 2016


Title: Pennsylvania
Series: Pennsylvania
Author: Michael Bunker
Genre: Sci-Fi
Release Date: 3rd April 2013

BLURB from Goodreads
Jedidiah Troyer just wants to start a farm and homestead on some affordable land in a new Amish community, but... what if the only good, cheap, available land was on another planet? So now Jed has signed up for an emigration program that is intent on colonizing the distant planet of New Pennsylvania. He faces a despotic government agency at war with rebels, the caprices of interstellar travel, a shadowy futuristic insurgency on his new planet, and more mysteries than he can count as he tries to fulfill his dream of owning his own farm. Space pioneering isn't as easy as it sounds when you're "plain." Things might work out for Jed... if he can ever get to his new home.


This series was recommended to me by another author after I read and enjoyed his book. As Phillip Harris’s book The Girl in the City is set in the society/world created in the Pennsylvania Series by Michael Bunker. So I decided to give reading the first part of the series a go. I am quite fascinated with the Amish culture so that was another point that drew me to the book.
I was quite quickly drawn in and my attention was definitely held throughout this book. I really didn’t want to put this book down and read very late into the night on a few occasions.
The cover depicts quite a barren looking isolated landscape, and there’s the Amish carriage on the winding road. 
The genres I’d personally say this book falls into are dystopian, and science fiction with some post apocalyptic aspects thrown in as well. It will be interesting to see how the Amish featured in the book cope with the genre aspects within it. On one hand their plain ways, and self sufficiency should make it easier for them to do without technology, however on the other hand there are science fiction parts in the book so how will they deal with what technology may be forced upon them. Will they continue to isolate themselves and keep to their own kind or will they reach out and help the non plain/Amish community.
So the actual book is a great introduction to what I personally hope will be a fascinating series. The setting is sometime in the future with advanced technology such as airbuses and the colonisation of other planets than earth. Earth has become over populated with less and less land to be purchased and worked. The Amish have to an extent been exempt from certain rules in this society such as having compulsory TRID’s fitted. TRID’s are an identity chip that is installed and does away with the old identification, passport papers. The Amish went to court and won their appeal against having them having them compulsory fitted like the English and rest of the society. The Amish also do not use the new currency that is placed on a card. This system is explained in detail within the book and was originally called Unilets which were derived from LETS. LETS = Local Exchange Trading System. The English keep their LETS on a card and pay for things electronically. Which to be totally honest is not a million miles away from our own contactless credit card system. Another popular technology that is widely available is B.I.C.E. which is a Beta Internet Chip Enhancement or as Jed refers to it as the “Internet in your head”. Not everyone is rich enough to pay for this chip and some still have to go to a place called an “Insta” where they can access the internet. Quadrille is a popular, and legal drug that the English seem to take in large quantities on a regular basis. 
The book begins with the main character of eighteen year old Jedidiah Troyer (Jed) who is attending to the chore of milking a cow on his family’s farm with his fourteen year old brother Amos Troyer. Amos asks for what must be the hundredth time if Jed will tell him about the journey he will be beginning later today. Jed is a patient older brother and it seems he is secretly pleased to tell his younger brother what he wants to know over and over again. Jed goes on to explain the whole journey or as they call it a pilgrimage and the colonisation process too.. 
Jed is going to inhabit a new planet called New Pennsylvania which is almost the same size as earth, and lots of the Amish people are making this move, which when you think of the Amish culture means that even they are having to adapt to continue their way of life.
Saying that the whole trip does not go to plan is somewhat of an understatement! First there seems to be something wrong with the amount of LETS on Jed’s card but a Transport station operative conveys that he should not question this, so he rather naively just goes with the whole situation that becomes more strange as his pilgrimage progresses. The book covers the small mindedness and discrimination of the English as Jed is bullied on one of the airbuses he travels on. It is nothing for them but when another English man named Jerry comes to his aid he feels warmed by the actions, not all are prejudiced against the Amish. 
Unfortunately for them it seems that Jed and Jerry have been unknowingly pulled into a much larger plan of resistance against the government. They also discover that New Pennsylvania id not as idyllic as they have been told.
I love the character of Jed, the brave and curious eighteen year willing to leave everything he knows and loves at a chance of working hard and eventually purchasing his own land. Jed is described as being a younger version of his father who believes in hard work. Working on the farm has made Jed a strong, lean and sturdy man, prepared to work hard for the prospect of a new life. He has long term plans, hoping that when old enough his younger brother will come out to join him on his land in New Pennsylvania. I did also like the younger character of Amos, and hope to see him, featured somewhere in the future of the series. Jed shows he is adventurous going to a new country but that he dearly loves and will miss his family and their love. There are some quite poignant, emotional moments within this book. One is the moment when Jed thinks back to the old barn window he broke when he was younger and the punishment his father gave him was to fix the window. Jed did fix it, just not with glass. He found a tin can and flattened it our filling the gap the glass breaking had created.
I loved reading this book and can’t wait to read even more of it soon! I really liked the mix of the society and cultures. I could go on and on about this book! Oh wow! what a place to end! What a cliff hanger! loved it, loved it, loved it! I want to read more... much more of this series.

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