The Proving by Ken Brosky

28262082It’s a shame that this writer and title is not well known because this series hold a ton of potential. Without a doubt, this is one of the better dystopian/sci-fi books I’ve read recently.

The planet Earth is now surrounded by a ring of ice, from which falls ghost-like creatures of energy called Specters, capable of killing a person upon contact. While many of Earth’s inhabitants where initially killed, the population now lives in safe cities protected by energy shields, only venturing outside when necessary, such as during The Proving. The Proving takes place for every citizen twice at ages 13 and 18 in small groups that leave the shield’s protection to see what Earth used to be like and gain a grasp of the reality of Earth’s predicament. These missions are typically low risk, usually involving maintenance on an outpost.

For Skye, Ben, Cleo, and Gabriel, this is their 2nd and final Proving. Gabriel is the son of a prominent Parliament member. Thus the group is given the safe assignment of fixing the power of a nearby emergency depot outside of Neo Berlin. However, when they find the body of a prominent scientist at the depot’s site, the mission takes a turn nobody could’ve predicted.

I felt that the plot was fairly original. The Specters are not aliens, but corporal forms of energy. The world building was detailed and vivid, with its own set of rules and mythology. I appreciate a well-built and concise world. Brosky creates a whole system of government, a few unique subcultures and social constructs as well as infinite amounts of sci-fi technology.

I found the Clan concept of the book particularly interesting and helpful; every person is a member of Clan Sparta, Clan Persia, Clan Athens, or a Free Citizen. Each has their own function and benefits. The Clan concept particularly informed the personalities and actions of each character. Since the book is character driven and has quite a few characters, I thought it was a smart technique and plot device on Brosky’s part in order to understand who everyone was and why the made the choices they did. Because despite the initially overwhelming amount of characters, each is developed and has their own individual personality and function in the story.

I only really have two grievances with the book. The first was the amount of perspectives used to narrate the story. Each chapter is a new perspective and there are five alternating perspectives in total. I found this to be disorienting. One or two, three at the maximum, would’ve been sufficient in telling the story. The most interesting perspectives to me were Skye’s, Ben’s, and Seamus’s. Cleo’s was too chaotic, just like her personality, and Gabriel’s was unnecessary in my opinion. Or at least, his story easily could’ve been told through the eyes of another.

My second issue was that in the middle of the book, the characters decide to respond to a distress signal they’re receiving at the Emergency Depot. Without spoiling the story for you, I simply felt that the decision didn’t fully make sense in light of the situation and didn’t match what I understood about the characters so far. Unfortunately, this decision is pretty crucial to the storyline. Perhaps there could’ve been a better way to drive the plot in that direction.

Overall, The Proving is smart, enjoyable, and finishes on a high note, keeping me in anticipation for its sequel.

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