Author: Brendan Reichs
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genre(s): Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Futuristic, Dystopian
Source: Sent copy for review from the publisher
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[SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1. NEMESIS SYNPOSIS HERE.]
Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.
The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost.
Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough.
Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.
**Consider this your book one spoiler warning. The review is spoiler free for book two, but it’s hard to talk about a sequel without discussing the events of the first book. I do highly recommend going into this series blind, so if you have not read book 1 yet, definitely click off, enjoy the story, then return to this review! Or just scroll down to read see my series spoiler-free interview with Brendan! We discuss both books and some other writing-related stuff!**
I read Nemesis last month after getting approved for this ARC and blog tour and was really excited to check it out. I wanted to read this book for a while and I hauled it back in September, but this was what finally had me take the plunge to check it out.
Yeah, I was not emotionally prepared for the emotional roller coaster Reichs took me on. Nemesis was a fast-paced read that took readers on a wild ride. I ended up listening to the audiobook and upping the speed to 3x because I was so eager to find out what happened next. After completing this book, I needed a light fluffy read because…damn. Then I had that worry that many readers have — how will the sequel compete with this? How can the story continue and still have the weight and emotional response of the first book?
Fear not readers, Genesis does not disappoint. I don’t know how he did it, but Genesis managed to mirror Nemesis on the weight of the narrative and I think I actually like Genesis more than Nemesis. Nemesis set up the threat, but Genesis is entirely dealing with said threat. Also, without giving away what the threat is, Genesis slowly turns into a mash-up of Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and The Matrix and boy was I here for it.
I think my favorite thing about this book was the constant debate of morals vs. survival instinct. I’m coming from a psychology background, specifically forensic psychology, so I LOVE books that make readers question morality. Anything that makes me think “just how far would I go to survive” is something I find myself getting sucked into. Also, I love how realistic Reichs makes the scenario. For many of these books, there’s a sense of “that wouldn’t happen to me” so readers may feel detached, but something about this series had me questioning what I would do and I felt like I was there with the characters.
The characters were also really enjoyable to read about. They have all grown since the first book and reading about how the situation has warped their behaviors and moral compass was a blast. I also like how there isn’t a clear “right” or “wrong.” Yes, readers are primed to side with Min throughout the book, but when considering the other characters, it’s also difficult to condemn the other characters. No one quite hits antihero status, but the antagonists have clear and understandable motives, making it hard to disagree with them.
I also like how this book was able to continue on the story without feeling like it dragged and without relying on repeating the points made in the first book. With a 500+ page book, the pacing is vital to not bore readers, and Reichs was able to balance slow and fast moments. This book also is told from the points of view of Min and Noah, each in drastically different situations. Reichs never makes you feel like too many situations are repeated when switching POVs, rather give readers a broader view of this world.
What kept me from giving this book the full 5 stars were a couple decisions made at the end. I’m worried about how this will play into the third book without falling into copout territory. I still enjoyed this book immensely, don’t get me wrong, I’m just worried for book 3.
Genesis is an enjoyable and strong follow up to Nemesis, successfully expanding on the world described in book 1, but upping the stakes and setting up for an interesting conclusion. The characters grew with the situation and the pacing of the book led to a quick read that will keep you up all night.
If you’re looking for something futuristic, thought-provoking, and fun, this series is one I definitely recommend for you!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ – 4.5/5 Stars
*HUGE THANK YOU TO PENGUIN TEEN AND BRENDAN REICHS FOR PROVIDING ME WITH AN ARC OF THIS BOOK. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN*
Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2000 and The George Washington University School of Law in 2006. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to write full time. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, son, daughter, and a herd of animals that tear up everything.
First, a HUGE thank you for Brendan for taking the time out to answer these questions for me! I always love getting to know how the authors came up with their stories and I love hearing them talk more about them. Personally, if I could ever get my hands on an annotated copy of this series with all of Brendan’s thought processes, my life would be complete. There are just so many complex thoughts and ideas discussed in this book.
(Becky) Can you tell me more about your inspiration for Nemesis?
(Brendan) I wanted to write a book set in a weird time period that often gets overlooked in the dystopian canon—the period before a global calamity strikes. What do people do when the world might be about to end … but it also might not? I thought it would be interesting to explore how my characters might act under the threat of total annihilation, but also, school is in session the next day, some of the kids are still jerks like always, and so on. How would you spend your time? How would you conduct yourself?
Who would you recommend this book to? What kind of reader?
Nemesis in the definition of a conspiracy thriller. It’s everything I loved to read growing up and I had a blast writing all the twists and turns. Genesis, its sequel, releasing March 6, 2018, is a different animal. I like the comparison to a technological retelling of Lord of the Flies. After the madness of Nemesis, Min, Noah, and their classmates find themselves in a strange world where the rules of society may no longer apply. How they conduct themselves becomes a central question to the story. I think readers who like fast-paced action stories, as well as ones that deal with the darkness that lurks inside all of us, will enjoy this book.
Which character is your favorite/least favorite? Why?
I’ve always enjoyed writing Tack the best, because his smartass sense of humor is basically me talking directly through the book. He tries to use humor to stay on top of difficult things, and that’s me as well. Noah is a challenge because he’s so fragile and unpredictable, and Min is a better person than I could ever be, but Tack is how I see myself living through the events of this story. In Genesis, that can be grim at times.
Are there any authors or books that have inspired you (this could be in general or when writing Nemesis and Genesis)? Who or what are they?
I really enjoyed Ben Winters’s The Last Policeman series, which has the same pre-apocalyptic vibe as Nemesis. I’ve recently really enjoyed the work of Soman Chainani in his School For Good and Evil series, which marries pulsing action with lyrical writing and depth of character. I read tons of thrillers growing up, so books like Relic and Congo have always been special to me. I like thrillers that go fast and don’t stop, and keep hitting you with surprises. That’s what I tried to create in the Project Nemesis series.
Are we going to meet any new characters in Genesis?
This is a huge question and the answer is … I can’t answer this. Lol. Sorry! But one thing I will say is that the original cast of sixty-four classmates really comes alive in Genesis. Some characters with limited roles in Nemesis have much bigger parts to play. It was fun getting to know these people, and a few in particular demanded more time in the story that I had ever intended to give them. I love it when that happens organically, and it definitely did in Genesis. Several new heroes and villains emerge. All that said, this is still the story of the beta patients of Project Nemesis—Min, Noah, Ethan, and Sarah (along with Tack!)—and the focus is primarily on them.
Nemesis had some jaw-dropping moments. Can we expect any in Genesis?
Yes. Quite a few, actually. Some of them even surprised me. (Becky here – After reading this book, I can confirm, there were a few.)
If you could describe Nemesis and/or Genesis in 3 words, what would they be?
Shocking, relentless impossibilities.
Can we expect any more from this world?
Nemesis takes place in Fire Lake, Idaho, a formerly idyllic vacation town that found itself at the center of a vast government conspiracy. That setting endures for Genesis, but as readers of the first book discovered … does it really? Fire Lake valley remains a character in the series, but it’s a whole new place this time around, and the rules are unclear. Surviving the environment is one of the key challenges in Genesis, and readers are cautioned to remember that you shouldn’t trust anything.
If your book was adapted into a movie, who would you want to direct it? Who are some actors you’d like to star in it?
Me. Me. (Seriously though, I have no preference. I’d just love to see it made. But I would love to see fan ideas on this subject, so fire away!)
If you could collaborate with any author, who would it be and why?
Funny you should ask! I just sold a middle grade series entitled The Darkdeep, co-written with my good friend Ally Condie, the amazing author of Matched and Summerlost. The first book will release on October 2, 2018. Getting to write with Ally has been a dream come true. The story combines elements of The Goonies and Strangers Things in a twisty, creepy adventure about a group of kids who discover a dark secret lurking in a Pacific Northwest cove near their small costal town. I can’t wait to share more this summer!
What’s one goal you have as you continue your writing career?
I’d like to publish all over the place. I currently have eight young adult titles under my belt, and I have a middle grade series coming in the fall. I’d also like to try out a fantasy story that might be more of an adult concept, and I’d love to write for TV and film one day. Basically, I want to stretch as much as possible in this career and continue trying new things.
What is your favorite/least favorite genre to write and/or read?
I’m not sure I’m built for adult contemporary fiction. I like blowing things up too much, and the real world has boring problems. Give me a wizard or an asteroid any time.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about being an author?
Favorite—sleeping in. Least favorite—radio interviews.
What’s some advice you’d give to aspiring writers?
I wish more aspiring writers understood that published authors aren’t magical story leprechauns able to create astounding literary works with little to no effort. Published authors are people who worked very, very hard, and endured years of rejection before making it. I firmly believe that anyone can write a book, but it takes grit and determination to beat down doors and the will to hone skills without glory. Anyone can write a good book if they work their butts off and fight for every inch of improvement. Do it. See it through.
What’s one question that you’ve always wanted to answer in an interview?
Do you want one million dollars for free, right now? (Yes.)