The Last Year, Book 1
Author: Trisha Leigh
Source: For review via YA Books Central
Description from Goodreads:
In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots.
Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone.
Then she meets Lucas, everything changes.
Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race.
It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.
And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.
First Sentence: "Before my eyelids crack open I know I've traveled again."
On top of being well-written and edited, Whispers in Autumn has one of the strangest, most unique premises I've encountered in dystopian fiction, which, believe me, is saying something. Perhaps most obviously, there are the aliens. Earth has been taken over by an alien race that keeps moving around, as it uses up home-world after home-world. These aliens, called simply Others, have strict control over human society, regulating marriages, the number of children couples can have, education, what people can eat, and anything else you can think of. Everyone thinks the Others are wonderful, never questioning their role, but Althea has begun to wonder.
Of course, Althea isn't like everyone else. She's not just one person, but three. She has three families and three identities. No, she's not living a secret triple life or anything, at least not the way you might be thinking. During the fall, she lives with the Morgans, and she spends winter and spring with other families. Althea cannot control when the change happens, nor does she no why. She just knows that she's different, Dissident, because of the note in her locket.
Though I cannot deny that this is a concept that's hard to wrap my mind around, I also appreciate the freshness, and definitely kept flipping pages to figure out what the heck is going on. Leigh doesn't have every answer for the reader yet, but it's clear that she's thought things through, and I have hopes that the world building will be logical unto itself. The season-changing elements are actually rather mythological almost in their origin, which is really cool.
What left me cold was Lucas. Sorry, I couldn't resist, because Lucas has cold skin. Actually, it's the characters as a whole, not that they left me cold exactly, but that I'm not really engaged with them. Perhaps because their lives are so alien (man, I am hilarious today!) or maybe it's that they engage in very few everyday, low stress activities to ground me in their reality. I like Lucas and Althea, but I'm not emotionally attached to them, and the other characters are pretty flat. Also, while I'm grateful Lucas and Althea are avoiding instalove, I'm not really feeling the connection between them at this point.
Trisha Leigh's Whispers in Autumn is a quality self-published novel with an original plot and a mystery that will leave the reader wanting to know more. I will definitely be moving on to the next installment, because Leigh still has my curiosity fully-engaged!
"Those feelings he sets off in me don't have a name. It's not love. Not yet.
But maybe something like it."