For a child-centric site, we get surprisingly few teen friendly stories which is why we jumped at the chance to read Riser by Becca C. Smith.
Since birth, Chelsan Deree has been able to see small black vortexes above the bodies of the dead. After killing her stepfather, she finds she can use these vortexes to re-animate corpses. I’m going to stop right there because that is an awesome premise. After book after book of boring, us-versus-them, zombie shoot them up novels, finally someone comes up with a kick ass way to reanimate the dead.
Chelsan is resigned to her quiet home with her mother and 11 year dead stepfather when a thick green fog kills her entire trailer park. When she learns the fog was meant for her, Chelsan is thrown into a world of cover ups and conspiracies. The only way to protect her friends and herself is to harness her powers.
Set in 2320, this book does some amazing world building. With the secret of eternal youth and immortality discovered, the chasm between the rich and poor become ever more present. The tenets of how this world can sustain the growing but never aging masses is examined in a relatable and interesting way. That’s a pretty impressive feat, especially in a teen science fiction novel!
This novel’s biggest weakness is the love story. If you were annoyed by Twilight, don’t expect to be wowed here. The love triangle of Bill and Ryan is expected and younger readers will probably be smitten with their exchanges. The older and more cynical among you will be rolling your eyes at the increasingly banal and delusional high school love story. Chelsan, the most powerful man in the world is trying to destroy you. No one cares if Ryan like-likes you or not.
Despite this, Riser is a fantastic read. And even better, it’s absolutely free. If you like what you read, Riser is the first part of a trilogy and you can download Reaper and Ripper for less than three bucks each. If you have a little zombie lover, get them the trilogy tonight!