by Maureen McGowan
Deviants and Compliance, Books One and Two respectively, in Maureen McGowan's The Dust Chronicles. I'd hate for you to miss out on the twists and turns of the plot that have led the way to Glory.
Glory Solis has experienced quite a trajectory from her dismal life in Haven hiding her brother Drake's deviance as well as her own, and believing that their father Hector had murdered their mother before he was expunged to outside Haven, ostensibly to attempt to survive attacks by Shredders.
Glory, her best friend Jayma and Glory's former dating partner Cal have now joined Drake and Hector in Concord, having escaped the clutches of the evil Mrs. Kalin, who uses mind control to manipulate the masses. But, although Burn, the young Freedom Army (FA) fighter with whom Glory is romantically entangled, has helped them escape, his apprehension about hurting her when his deviance arises is pulling them apart.
A well-orchestrated Shredder attack on Concord, when Rolph and the FA are away, has Glory suspecting Mrs. Kalin, even more so when she taps into the mind of a female Shredder. This Shredder, who Glory hides away in a concealed cellar to limit her access to Dust, had been a Haven employee before entering Hospital, Mrs. Kalin's domain, and then sent out to
"Find the girl. Bring the girl. The President needs the girl." (pg. 77)While the FA works at forming treaties with another Outside community before launching its ultimate attack on Haven, Glory's focus is on finding her missing father; resolving her attractions to both Burn and Cal; helping the female Shredder, Caroline, get off the Dust; and easing Burn's conviction that he is a monster, having been abandoned by his family for this reason. Add the hostility of the revenge-seeking Zina, a long-lost Shredder relative, Jayma's newly-found Deviance (or gift), and the death of a significant character, and Maureen McGowan has brilliantly composed a spectacular conclusion to The Dust Chronicles. The writing is tight, the subplots intricate, and the resolution gratifying.
But, beyond the story, I think the success of Glory and the entire series is the flawed nature of the characters. Regardless of any deviances, they are imperfect, making both poor and better choices; conflicted by what they see or hear and what they feel; readily jumping to conclusions, often incorrectly; and continuing to try to resolve situations well. And they don't know in whom to place their trust. Trust is a very fragile commodity.
In a dystopian world in which time is measured relative to the coming of the Dust–BTD represents "before the Dust"–perspective and perceptions are flawed, based on limited communications and movement, as well as wholesale propaganda about the Dust and the ensuing social hierarchy. It's scary to see how easily a dystopian world arises after a cataclysmic event. (This is especially frightening when I consider the current climatic evidence of global warming.) And, even though there are supernatural elements that wouldn't correspond to anything in our world, it is reassuring to know that there are those who care about the welfare of others, first and foremost, and work towards ameliorating prejudices, addictions, and hierarchies that hide greed and aggression. The people of Haven, Concord, Houston, and Fort Huron are too realistic to be discounted but Maureen McGowan presents both possibilities (e.g., mind control) and impossibilities (e.g., displaying protective scales) to disquiet and reassure the reader. Couple that with an ingenious plot and a little romance, and that's a hefty accomplishment.
Maureen McGowan will be reading at this year's Eden Mills Writers' Festival. Come out on September 14, 2014 to meet Maureen McGowan and other youngCanLit authors. It's always a great time!