Aestus: Book 1: The City – S.Z. Attwell

Genre: Dystopian | Sci-Fi

Pages: 706

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

Synopsis: “An underground city, built centuries ago to ride out the devastating heat. A society under attack. And a young solar engineer whose skills may be the key to saving her city…if she doesn’t get herself killed first.

When Jossey was ten, the creatures of the aboveground took her brother and left her for dead, with horrible scars. Now, years later, she’s a successful solar engineer, working to keep her underground city’s power running, but she’s never really recovered. After she saves dozens of people during a second attack, she is offered a top-secret assignment as a field Engineer with Patrol, but fear prevents her from taking it…until Patrol finds bones near where her brother disappeared.

She signs on and finds herself catapulted into a world that is far more dangerous, and requires far more of her, than she ever imagined. The creatures and the burning heat aboveground are not the only threats facing the City, and what she learns during her assignment could cost her her life: one of the greatest threats to the City may in fact lie within. With thousands of lives at stake, can she act in time?

Aestus is an adult dystopian science-fiction series set centuries after climate change has ravaged much of Earth. An epic story of vengeance, power, shifting loyalties, and survival that looks at just how far people will go to protect what they love, brought to you by science writer S.Z. Attwell, Aestus paints a picture of a world in which far too little has changed.”

My Review: I will start with a disclaimer. S.Z. Attwell very kindly sent me with a free Kindle copy of this book when I was at a low point mentally. She said to read it at my own leisure and did not want a review in return. However, here we are, writing a review. After a brief hiatus from blogging whilst I’ve sorted my head out, I couldn’t think of a better book to return with.

This book really has opened my eyes to a whole world of literature I had been purposely ignoring. When I started the book and realised it was 1. Sci-fi and 2. Over 700 pages long, I’ll be honest I did panic a bit because they’re two factors majorly out of my comfort zone. Turns out I actually very much enjoy sci-fi – I’ve removed the ‘do not send me sci-fi’ from my review policy, and long books aren’t as terrifying as they seem.

I’m going to just put it out there now: This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

For context, the climate change crisis got out of hand and as a result the population had to move underground because it was too hot to continue to live above ground. The word ‘aestus’ means heat / fire in Latin. A word that was perfectly chosen to be the title of this book series.

The book begins with a prologue set 15 years prior to the main storyline. Jossey, who was 10 at the time, and her brother Tark snuck aboveground to watch the moon rise. They knew they shouldn’t have been aboveground due to the Onlar – vicious creatures who attack anyone who is still aboveground when it becomes dark, but take the risk anyway. Unfortunately their adventure doesn’t end well and Tark is taken by the Onlar and is presumed dead as there’s no trace of him anywhere.

Fast forward 15 years to the present day and Jossey works as a solar engineer working above ground during the day. On her way back underground one night there is another Onlar attack. Jossey’s actions don’t go unnoticed and she is offered an assignment with Patrol as a field engineer. I don’t want to say more about the storyline itself as there are lots of twists and turns and I’m not one for spoiling books for other people!

There are a few reviews that say that Attwell’s writing could be improved, however I didn’t spot anything I deemed to be a problem when I was reading the book — maybe that’s because I was so enthralled in the story itself. The book is suspenseful, but well-paced. It doesn’t feel like it goes too slow, and it also doesn’t feel like it goes too quickly. There is a lot of action packed into 700 pages and I was making my way through the pages at the speed of light because I couldn’t put the book down.

This book has truly convinced me to explore more of the world of sci-fi, a genre I previously tried to avoid because I thought it was just men in space rockets (lol). I really loved how it was a real-world setting and it really allowed me to think about the way the world we be if we don’t try change things now, potentially whilst we still have time.

Books don’t make me cry and never have done, but there were times throughout this book where I was getting quite close to shedding a tear. I think I experienced every emotion possible because of the way the storyline lured you in with a false sense of security, only for there to be a huge plot twist, which more often than not had me reading with my mouth wide open.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to fans of sci-fi as well as those who are like me and haven’t really delved into the genre much. It’s an absolutely fantastic 5 star read, and the other reviews I’ve seen have agreed with me on that! S.Z. Attwell is an extremely talented author – this is her debut novel(!!!) and if this is anything to go by, then Aestus: Book 2: The Colony and any other books written by her in the future are no doubt going to be equally as spectacular.

To purchase the book:

Waterstones click here

Amazon (UK) – click here

Amazon (USA) – click here

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