The best books are those that you’re still thinking about after you turn the last page (or power down your e-reader). A good book will keep your mind too occupied to sleep. You might still be thinking about a great one years later. And it seems that the dark ones are often the most powerful. It’s all about the world. If you can imagine yourself there, it can reach your soul.
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is one of the most awesome works of dystopian fiction ever created (IMHO). I read it on an overseas flight in 2006. Eleven years later I still think about the haunting images it conjured. Yet, I’ve never read it again, as I do with many of my other favorite novels. I just can’t go through those emotions again. You can see the places in its pages. We don’t get much explanation, but it doesn’t matter. Reading that book stung when I wasn’t a father. I couldn’t imagine reading it again now knowing what it’s like to be a dad. When my children are facing difficulties in life where I struggle to help guide them, or protect them, I think of The Road.
I wrote Age of Order while facing the challenge of getting my young children into school in our adopted home of New York City. Let me tell you, there is darkness in this town. The kind that hides in plain sight, behind tight smiles and glittering jewels. Some of that darkness inevitably found it was into the novel—the world of Age of Order is a dystopia. Luckily, over the months that I was writing the book, I found hope too. I met a precious few people of compassion, of integrity, who were also struggling to raise their children in this place and keep them sane. I think it saved the book. It certainly saved me. But when things turn dark, I still think about The Road, and a future that could be…
Title: Age of Order
What if the people who thought they were better than you… really were?
In this world, inequality is a science. Giant machines maintain order. And all people are not created equal.
Daniela Machado is offered a chance to escape the deprivation of Bronx City through a coveted slot at the elite Tuck School. There, among the highborn of Manhattan, she discovers an unimaginable world of splendor and greed. But her opportunity is part of a darker plan, and Daniela soon learns that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.
Age of Order is a novel that explores the meaning of merit and inequality. Fans of the Hunger Games, Red Rising, and Divergent will enjoy this world of deception and intrigue, where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.
I dashed towards the dilapidated collection of storefronts hugging the fringes of the worn avenue, the rusted metal gates firmly closed, lean-to homes piled on their concrete roofs. Makeshift cardboard dwellings crowded the sidewalk. I ran for one of the lightless alleys between the buildings. Lurkers lived in those narrow corridors as surely as rats lived in the sewer, but I’d rather face them than the machines. I leaped towards the darkness.
A finder beam latched onto me as I sailed through the air, the comparative safety of the alley as tantalizingly close as candy in a shop window. I imagined the tight little dot on my leg, hot and hungry. I could almost touch the alley wall. But not quite. The hulking metal slave fired.
A correction pellet sliced through the fabricated leather of my sneaker and bit into my flesh. The force of the impact was enough to screw up my balance too. I landed on one foot instead of two, falling forward. Chewed-up concrete surged towards me. I sacrificed my right palm and left elbow to protect my head, and the viser strapped to my left forearm.
I scrambled to my feet and ran down the alley, my jaws clenched, but the pain wasn’t what was bothering me. I told myself that my shoe had blocked a lot of the pellet. That I probably hadn’t gotten hit with a full dose. That what was coming wouldn’t be that bad.
I’ve been writing since I could grab a pencil (remember those?). Then I had kids. Not much time for writing anymore. Until they started school… in New York City. I’m not from here, and the tumult of that experience inspired me. AGE OF ORDER grew from a diary of injustice. Now I write what I’m feeling, and let the rest flow from there. I hope you enjoy it.
Please visit my website at www.juliannorth.com and join my book club to receive a free short story set in the same world as AGE OF ORDER.