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Our First Editorial Review

A 4.2 out of 5 from my first official editorial review. Not bad! I'll take it. See below for the full review on The Paradise Planets by IndieReader:



A privileged teen from a "gated" planet is kidnapped by rebels and forced to slum it on a flooded Earth, where her only chance at escape is turning a lowly group of athletes into world champions.


Sea levels have risen to a point where coastal cities are underwater and Earth is a polluted, over-populated mess, while an elite ruling class lives prosperous and privileged lives on one of three Paradise Planets. Earthlings (referred to “Gaians”) are forbidden access. The only way they can get to the Paradise Planets is to win the Siren Games, a type of underwater World Cup. Author Shaun Barrowes keeps THE PARADISE PLANETS tight and engaging by focusing on likable hero Kassi Rivernova, the daughter of Paradise Planet royalty kidnapped by a band of Earth rebels. The rebels want fair access to the Paradise Planets and hope to force this change by making “‘disers” experience the hardships and squalor of Earth life. Kassi and her cousin are captured and separated, forced to live with wicked foster parents. (In a Cinderella-type segment, Kassi’s wicked stepmother makes her roll illegal cigarettes for hours each day.) Kassi is ruthlessly bullied at school by teachers and fellow students, and no one thinks twice because she’s got a 400 rating in a world where 800s shine. The only respite Kassi gets is when she’s playing AquaSphera with her teammates.

The sport of AquaSphera is central to THE PARADISE PLANETS. It is played by underwater athletes in supercharged wetsuits and combines soccer, hockey, and quidditch from the Harry Potter series. It’s fast moving, action-packed, and serves as an excellent metaphor for Kassi’s political awakening and personal growth. Kudos to Barrowes for making this imaginary game so believable and riveting. Barrowes was also clearly influenced by The Hunger Games as both stories feature games, social revolution, and a female protagonist. But while Katniss immediately sacrifices herself to take her little sister’s place, it takes Kassi a while to understand her position of privilege and why change requires personal sacrifice.

In a literary field crowded with dystopian young adult science fantasy (the aforementioned The Hunger Games, Convergent, Maze Runner, et al.) THE PARADISE PLANETS distinguishes itself by keeping the political upheaval in the background and concentrating on Kassi’s journey from the bottom of a brutal and bullying caste system to Siren Games contender. Barrowes’s unique writing style brings the world of THE PARADISE PLANETS to life. The local ‘diser slang takes some getting used to, and the narrative flow is sometimes interrupted by the inclusion of song lyrics in English and the mysterious language Eveik. Siren’s songs power everything in this novel, from sonic rifles and power packs to the rallying cry of athletes and revolutionaries alike. Once readers get into Barrowes’s rhythm and flow, THE PARADISE PLANETS is an engaging tale of futuristic sports and sacrifice for the greater good.

Despite some similarities to other popular young adult dystopian fiction, Shaun Barrowes keeps THE PARADISE PLANETS original and exciting with fast-moving sports sequences, clever world-building, and siren mythology. ~Rob Errera for IndieReader


by: Shaun Barrowes


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