Title: The War Between
Author: Jennifer Withers
Publisher: Jennifer Withers
Book procurement: Received a copy from author for an honest review.
Release Date: April 13, 2016.
A human war over dwindling resources has all but destroyed the world. In a country once known as South Africa, two cities struggle to survive. Toria is believed to contain the final generation of humans, while Jozenburg is inhabited by beings created and born in a laboratory, gifted with abilities both strange and terrifying. The two species have known peace for many years, but with their respective cities surrounding the remaining resources, tensions are rising. The two leaders of Jozenburg are twin siblings Syra and Draiken, and with their first successful conversion of a human to a superhuman, Draiken sets a plan in motion that will bring his kind, and the humans, to the brink of war. The arrival of Dominico in Jozenburg, a girl with unique and dangerous abilities, and a human commander claiming to have saved her life, Syra is forced to reconsider her views of not only herself, but of the beings she considered her enemies.
I haven’t read many science-fiction novels based in South Africa. The War Between is the interweaving story of survival in a post war South Africa, where humans and superhumans are caught in a web of deceit, struggle and the ultimate goal of self-preservation. Each living within a walled city separated by The Waste, they keep to themselves in fear of the other.
The story is told from the perspectives of three main protagonists. Dominico is a super-human with unique abilities living in Toria among the humans. Her powers are a secret; should anyone find out it would mean certain death. Circumstances lead her to Jozenburg, the superhuman city. Rogan is a commander from Toria, a human, a man who grew up fearing the superhumans only to find himself saving Dominico and leading her to Jozenburg. Syra is the leader of Jozenburg along with her twin brother Draiken who purses the survival of the superhuman species with dogged determination; he would do anything to ensure continuity. Syra leads with intuition and is guided by both it and her emotions, very introspective and almost as stubborn as her twin brother. As their lives intertwine, and an inevitable war boils to the surface, they learn that there is more to the other than what they have been taught their entire lives.
The novel moves along at a steady pace, the varying perspectives offering views and insights that keep you turning the pages. I experienced those “Why didn’t you see that coming!!! (Syra!)” moments and the occasional “Whoa!? What!?” as Jennifer Wither’s twists through the plot using the characters, to a surprising yet satisfying conclusion.
The characters are real, their motives clearly shown and they do not break character for the sake of the plot. The underlying message in the interactions between the two “species” is one that isn’t so foreign after all. Humans in general (super or not) tend to stick to their learned beliefs without questioning them, quick to repudiate any who are different, and will stubbornly refuse to accept others because of their beliefs even when someone proves trustworthy. Race. Language. Religion. It doesn’t matter. All it requires is a little bit of fear, mob mentality, and a self-serving leader to sustain it.
I wish there had been more about this Creator they refer to. The who and the why. Not that it would change the story as it is complete without the Creator’s backstory, but it would have been nice. Nonetheless, an intriguing story and props to Jennifer Withers.
Rating: An super 4 out of 5.
Jennifer Withers has been writing since she was seven years old, banging out stories about dragons and damsels in distress on an ancient typewriter. She went on to earn a BA in English Studies at the University of Pretoria. Since then, she has taken writing courses through Writer’s Write, and Allaboutwriting. Jennifer lives in Pretoria, with her husband, two dogs, and an ageing cat. The War Between is her first novel.
Facebook page: Facebook.com/JenniferWithersAuthor
Twitter profile: JenWAuthor
Amazon Purchase: The War Between