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Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams Paperback – March 25, 2014
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Barnard had always been a voracious reader, seeming to swallow books whole, reading lengthy novels like The Three Musketeers and the Hobbit while her peers were reading Junie B Jones and the Diary of Wimpy Kid. While in school she discovered that such a thing as grades existed and her sense of competition was ignited. She went on to become AR Queen (following in the footsteps of her sister) and surpassing the closest competitor by near twice as many points. From that moment on Rachel looked for the competition in everything. She entered the Wings of Hope Speech competition and came in third in the state, meeting one of her idols Jane Goodall. After speech writing she turned to poetry, which kept her quite occupied throughout middle school. It was not until high school that she diversified her writing portfolio once more and began to write the great american novel which was a complete failure. Her vocabulary was immensely advanced whilst her realistic sense of plot and dialogue was lacking because she was still young and inexperienced in the world. Short stories soon followed while she continued with the poetry. It was during her last two years in high school that Rachel submitted her works to various competitions and got several of her better poems published, winning a couple of bucks along the way. Unfortunately, when she arrived at college, Rachel was too busy to continue inhaling fiction, instead focussing on her textbooks, her work in a restaurant, and an active social life. Rachel was amassing life experience and soon put all this knowledge to work when she began the great american novel attempt number two after graduating. Nine months later Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams was born. Rachel had published her young adult novel of a heroine's adventures at the Academy through Amazon, doing her own editing and using her own picture as cover art. When she turned 23, Rachel joined a writing group in the Valley and wrote a children’s picture book and started on another young adult novel. She decided to form a local writing group in her hometown (the Maple Valley Writers) and is always looking for new and different challenges as she grows and learns as an author and a dreamer.
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Top customer reviews
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Look for more by Rachel Barnard, this was supposed to be a trilogy but she's moving on to more ideas now.
That brings me to the world, arguably the most important part of any dystopian novel. What we have is Ataxia, a resistance movement against the government that was formed after an "Electronic Hackstorm" that threw the entire world's infrastructure into chaos. It's a great idea and believable. MC knows about the resistance and the Obies, who murdered her parents. The clashes that occur when MC emerges as a force to be reckoned with are harrowing to say the least.
Overall this is a great read. It does have a lot in it, but sometimes it has a little too much. Sometimes things that could be passed over in one sentence, like getting dressed, end up taking paragraphs to get through. It's worth it to get immersed in this world and invested in these characters, and for that I give it full credit.
I couldn’t quite place my finger on what I was feeling until I was on the last four minutes of the book. But it was that I felt like the story wasn't real.
Now before you raise an eyebrow at me, let me be clear. I know that fiction means none of what I was reading was real. But I expect it to feel real. I expect to be so enthralled in a story that I forget that I will eventually return to reality. And Ataxia just didn't pull through.
Meet MC. No, that doesn't stand for Main Character and even if it did, that would be unbearably foolish on Barnard’s part. You never find out what her actual name is and frankly, I didn't care. She's supposed to be the main character, but I wasn't buying it. Nothing about her made me believe that she was a heroine, a brave person, or capable of doing even the simplest of tasks to save a cat from a tree, much less people from a government. Not to mention that she was terrifyingly naive. If someone tells you that you’re somehow involved in a super secret society that you didn't know about and this society needs to find the government, what would your response be? Certainly not: Okay! That sounds amazing, I’m totally in! And even though I don't trust you, I will listen to all the information you give me and even follow you blindly to a location I'm unfamiliar with. At least, I hope that that isn’t what your response would be.
MC is also rude. Twice she yells severely unkind remarks at two of the very small amount of people who actually care about her. She also hurts a third person and then forgets to apologize until someone makes her. A leader of any kind has to be able to hold their tongue when they are angry over trivial things until they can speak calmly. I don't expect MC to always do react in such a manner since she does has to develop this type of response to situations, but I was still unimpressed by her complete lack of self-control.
The only aspect of Ataxia that was done somewhat correctly was the romance. MC’s interest in the future male significant other was realistic, even when she was first exploring it. However, it was still a largely physical relationship, and I don't see what either parties are attracted to.
The whole ‘I must overthrow the government’ plot felt like a half-baked subplot. There was nothing exceptionally wrong with Barnard’s writing, besides having two characters nickname another character ‘Barbie,’ (why is this such a ‘necessary’ nickname for certain girls?) but it felt as if she had originally wanted to focus on MC’s time at the Academy. Then, later on, the overthrowing the government plot was slipped in as if a friend had said ‘you know, most dystopian novels have the main character try to overthrow the government.’ It was never explained as to why the government needs to be overthrown because from what I had read, people were happy. I never heard complains of mistreatment from any of the characters, not even MC. So what's her motive? I still don't know who MC is, her full name, her backstory (or anyone’s backstory), and why I should care about her. You cannot have a series where the origin of the main character, her motive, and other essential things are introduced in the sequel. It cannot work because there is no reason for the reader to go on. There's no suspense, since I don't care about the character or what happens to her, there’s no interest regarding how MC will destroy the government since I don't feel like it needs to be destroyed, there is nothing that makes me want to continue. I believe that it would have been much more interesting in Barnard had focused on MC’s life at the Academy, which was actually intriguing and I’d like to have learn more about the games and activities it had to offer as well as her relationships inside the school.
Would I recommend Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams? As interesting as the title and cover were, I'm afraid not. It held nothing of actual substance that would have made me consider suggesting the book to anyone.
Most recent customer reviews
Ataxia features a great heroine and engaging storyline.
The dystopian setting is believable. I could easily see our world becoming like this.Read more
Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams takes place in an eerily...Read more