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Lotus and Thorn by Sara Wilson Etienne

Saturday, May 21, 2016
A thrilling fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah Maas

Ravaged by a plague known as Red Death, the planet Gabriel, a former colony of Earth, is a barren wasteland. Since being abandoned by Earth 500 years ago, resources are scarce and life is cheap. To stay alive, the survivors, the Citizens, scavenge the remains of a now dead city, trading for food with the resource-rich Curadores, the only other survivors on Gabriel. Every old computer, every piece of wire, every scrap of metal counts. To steal is the ultimate sin. So when tough-as-nails seventeen-year-old Leica is caught doing just that, she's exiled and left to the mercy of Gabriel's unforgiving desert for the rest of her life. 

While in exile, Leica discovers a mysterious shuttle, which may not only lead her home, but even more impossible—reestablish contact with Earth. Then Red Death rears its head again, killing her entire work crew, leaving Leica all alone until a handsome Curador offers her refuge in the Dome—the only place on Gabriel untouched by Red Death, where a decadent and sultry life awaits. But there's a catch: Leica can only enter the Dome as his concubine—his Kisaeng. When a rogue group of Citizens see their chance for revolution in Leica's good fortune, she finds herself unraveling a deadly mystery with chilling answers to the true origin of Red Death and the reason Earth really abandoned them so long ago. 

A richly imagined fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce, Lotus and Thorn, is a magnificent, epic adventure.

Goodreads Summary

I loved the world-building in this book!  I kept imagining myself having to scavenge alongside Leica and viewing a barren wasteland on a regular basis.  Gabriel is a planet colonized...and abandoned by Earth.  The Red Death is one of the worst ways to die on Gabriel and unfortunately sweeps through populations.  Leica finds a potential way to contact Earth, but the Red Death causes a massive obstacle to her establishing a connection.  She gets a partial reprieve via a tumultuous offer: she can become a concubine to gain entrance to the Dome (where she is presumably safe from the Red Death).

Parts of this novel reminded me of the old game (that some of you may know): the "Oregon Trail."  Leica has to make decisions that impact her future and life on a regular basis and one wrong move/decision could end it all.  She's resilient, strong, and intelligent.  I liked the mysterious Dome and the tantalizing possibility of contacting Earth and discovering more of the backstory behind what truly happened between Earth and Gabriel.    There is a little bit of romance for those of us who love the romance twist!  I wish the author had spent a little more time developing their relationship.  Parts of the book consisted of long descriptions rather than pushing the plot forward, but overall the book went by quickly.  This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

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