Title: The Future Second By Second
Author: Meridel Newton
Publisher: Interstellar Flight Press
Genre: Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Release Date: 2nd May 2022
BLURB from Goodreads
In a new America where civilization as we know it has ended, every hour counts. Everything is ticking along perfectly in the sanctuary community of Osto until a band of raiders arrives intent on violence. Vasha has led her people through the worst the world has to offer for years, but this new threat could destroy her hope for the future. She’s forced to strike a bargain with the leader of the raiders as tensions rise among the survivors and refugees who call Osto home. Old rivalries and prejudices put everything they’ve worked for at risk. But if Vasha plays this right, she just might forge a new future for Osto.
It was the book cover that initially drew my attention to this book, first of all the bright colours and then on closer inspection, the clock face with the bright orangey-red flowers in front of it. It’s only when you have read the book that you realise the relevance of the cover to the story. This book cover would certainly encourage me to click on it online or pick it up in a bookstore to learn more about it by reading the blurb. I do enjoy the genres of Sci-Fi & Fantasy genres with some mystery & thriller elements thrown in and recently discovered that I really enjoy reading books that are also categorised as literary fiction. As this book has all that together I was looking forward to a great read.
The main characters live together in what was once a decent sized warehouse in the “before.” Without going into much detail, as I do not want to give away very much with this being only novella length. The world has gone through an event that means there is no electricity, in fact, living is pretty primitive and is a rather back to basics way of life. This area where the main characters are based is called Osto. The leader of Osto is a woman called Vasha who walks with a cane due to being born with a club foot. Vasha inherited the job of leader from her father and she has led the people of Osto ever since. Vasha does not look like a “typical leader” to those who do not really know her. It is that very mistake that the leader, Drake of the gang of raiders known as the “Men of Esteben” makes. When his men gather to take what they want from Osto as they have done in other areas, Vasha and her people initially hid in the old fortified warehouse. When it becomes apparent neither side is willing to back down, Vasha offers Drake and the Men of Esteben a deal. Drake may rule Osto for the next 15 hours, at the end of this time there will be a vote to see who the people of Osto want to be their leader. Everyone in Osto and all the Men of Esteben will be able to cast a vote. Drake laughs and thinks that he can easily lead the people of Osto as he leads his band of rough, tough men. Drake feels confident that he will do a much better job than this old disabled women in front of him. Drake soon realises that leading Osto is not as easy as he thought it would be, in fact, its much more difficult than leading his men. The people of Osto each have their own strengths and skills which are put to good use in relevant jobs. Drake is used to his men doing whatever he says, when the people of Osto try to explain to him that they have their own skills/jobs Drake demands that they just do as they are told or they will suffer the consequences.
One of my favourite characters was of course Vasha, who turned out to be a very wise woman, though she certainly takes a risk allowing Drake to lead her people. In fact, there are a few occasions during his leadership that she seriously regrets her offer. Another resident of Osto I became quickly attached to was Ben who worked in the kitchen, making food for the people of Osto to eat in between their working.
Although Drake is the leader of the raiders known as the cruel, unyielding Men of Esteben who take what they want and kill anyone who stands in their way, I honestly did end up sort of warming to him. I seriously wanted to grab him and roughly shake him or knock some sense into him whilst he was ruling Osto.
The novella is really well written, it felt like it was really fast paced as there is always either some action or drama going on. Despite the people living in a world without electricity and “old world” modern comforts, there are still the frictions from before, with certain families having their feuds and arguments between them. The reasoning behind the title is revealed whilst reading the book. Each chapter has a time, ie the first chapter is labelled at 8am, and the last chapter heading is 12am. Basically the chapters being like this fits really well with the concept of Drake being trialled as a leader of Osto for 15 hours.
My immediate thoughts upon finishing the novella were that I had truly enjoyed it, and was disappointed it had ended. I wished it had been longer. So, it is fair to say I am genuinely looking forward to reading more of The Shelter Trilogy.
Summing up I feel I should point out that this is a novella length book, so is quite short. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to reading the other two parts of The Shelter Trilogy. I am wondering whether to wait and hope all three novellas will be combined into one book or not. This book has great characters you easily become attached to, even some of the “bad” guys! It also has a well developed plot and clever world building. I honestly loved it and would seriously like to read a lot more about this world, the setting of Osto and its characters.