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Bannerless (The Bannerless Saga) Paperback – July 11, 2017
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"[A]n intimate post-apocalyptic mystery ... a deft portrait of a society departed so completely from the complexities of the now-destroyed civilization ... that survivors don’t even understand what it is they’ve lost. ... [A] well-crafted and heartfelt effort." - Kirkus
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Taking the problems society battles now, overpopulation, hunger, greed, and climate change, Bannerless establishes a system and a set of hard laws that prevent this from ever overwhelming the earth again. The people live in smaller villages run by a committee overseen by a regional government and policed by investigators. Households are not necessarily based on relation but housemates that work together for the good of the house and the village. No one farms more than what is needed by the village or there are harsh penalties. All households work for a banner; the regional reward for hard work that shows the home is capable of supporting another child. The investigators deal with a bannerless pregnancy, either with termination of the pregnancy or banishment. It’s a harsh system but it protects the future; over farming might create oversupply and negatively affect the soil ten years from now and extra children would make for increased food rationing and the villages do not want to lose the little paradises they have now.
The story focuses on Enid, a regional investigator from the town of Haven. She and her cousin Tomas, also an investigator, are called to the town of Pasadan to investigate a possible murder. People react negatively whenever they see the brown investigator uniform—even if they themselves are innocent, a guilty housemate or villager can estrange the entire house or town for years. It’s as simple as one person ruining it for everyone. So Enid and Tomas are cautiously welcomed but town politics and fears make their job difficult especially when they find that the dead man was a loner and not well liked. He had no household and never interacted with others unless they needed repairs on their homes or fences. And Pasadan has many beautiful fences.
But Bannerless doesn’t just focus on the mystery of the man’s death, the reader is taken into the past and we learn about Enid’s childhood and her formative teen years when she traveled outside Haven down the Coast Road and explored what had to be what was left of Los Angeles one hundred years after the Fall. It’s creepy and tragic and shows what Enid is trying to prevent from happening in her world now. Both stories, past and present, eventually intersect in Pasadan.
The story starts out slowly and takes awhile before it gains purchase and keeps the reader going until the end. I admit there were times I was ready to walk away from the book but I am very glad I stuck with it. Bannerless is multi-layered and takes its time to peel back each layer to reveal another justification for why this banner system cannot be broken. One simple lie or overuse of supplies or even hoarding; any of these seemingly little infractions can build up and bring the world to its knees once again. It was also interesting that, while never stated, most of the characters along the Coast Road are probably Hispanic; the names, skin color and the “hola” greeting. Nothing political, just fact that most people along the west coast are Hispanic in origin.
Follow one Investigator as she is pulled into a messy case.
Once started, I didn't want to put the book down!
Most recent customer reviews
This is a quiet book, a mystery set in post-apocalyptic America. Enid is an investigator, sent to a town with a suspicious death.Read more
Ok, I did start to look at the chapter heading, but Carrie was generally good about cluing people in on where the story was.Read more