Nadine Brandes makes her debut with a dystopian trilogy where individuals have a personal clock counting down to their death.
In A Time to Die, seventeen-year-old Parvin Blackwater has less than a year left on her clock. When the government discovers Parvin was illegally sharing one with her twin brother, she is sent through the Wall, where no one has ever returned.
Wanting her life to count for something, Parvin writes her thoughts as she experiences life beyond the Wall. A journalist agrees to publish her journal and make her famous. She meets Willow (an albino who befriends her unconditionally) and Jude (who teaches her how to survive). Her experiences make her want to return to her former world, to teach other Radicals how to survive.
Brandes creates a future world where new technology and government control is all too real and possible. Her writing is imaginative with realistic characters and suspenseful plot twists. The albino culture takes environmentalism to an extreme, resulting in the maiming of a major character. The writing gets intense but the violence is appropriate for the story (including a birth scene and several killings). Military control, an assasination, and conspiracy are part of the novel’s plot twists. Parvin struggles in her Christian faith, making her journey both a spiritual and physical one.
A Time to Die is well-written, especially for a debut novel, and its excellence is recognized in the honors garnered. It won the 2015 Carol Award, and was a 2015 Christy Award finalist as well as a 2014 Clive Staples Award semi-finalist. A Time to Die is followed by A Time to Speak, and A Time to Rise.
Recommended for fans of dystopian fiction and speculative fiction, especially readers of Krista McGee’s Anomaly series, Lisa Bergren’s Remnant series, Bonnie Calhoun’s Stone Braide Chronicles series, and Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands series.
Carol R. Gehringer
—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.