Customer Reviews: Darklandia
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on November 2, 2012
I got this book from Library Thing Giveaway

I struggled at first with what to give the book. When I started to read it I absolutely found myself submerged in it as well as the plot. It seemed to flow, and the world T.S Welti created was simply unique and interesting.

Sera, the main character of the story lives in a new type of Manhattan. From the very beginning I was a little shocked with the way it had started, but it set up a very interesting storyline. I love the mystery that the character had to unravel about the felicity virus that plagues her people and the darklings (or normal people).

I have to say that the three stars came down to the fact that even thought I enjoyed the storyline I was a bit torn and disappointed with the ending. I found myself a little confused with a bunch of unanswered questions. It seemed rushed, which would have been fine but it just didn't seem right. Made me feel like I missed something.

Overall I thought it was well written, up until the end, and I do hope that this is only the first book to a series. It was in fact, up to a point, a page turner. I enjoy books such as this, but I am left wanting more in the end, a little more depth as well.
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on December 8, 2012
It feels like a shame to rate this book so badly, because most of it is quite good. There's a lot to like about that characters, the scenario is very interesting, and the pacing is mostly good.

However, there are several significant points that drew me out of my suspension of disbelief. The main character is helped by people who are rebelling against the status quo of the time. One of these characters in particular, the key one in fact, is supposedly in his mid teens yet holding a position of power and responsibility with the establishment. Not only is this hard to swallow, but despite the fact that there is an obsessive big-brother surveillance program in place, he seems to be able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants and no one gets him in trouble. The author hand-waves around this a bit, not very convincingly.

The ending of this book is not mediocre, it's not bad, it's downright terrible. It's clearly supposed to be a exciting plot twist that you never saw coming. Well, in fact you can't see it coming, because it's entirely unrelated to everything that has happened in the book so far. With a well-executed plot twist, the author provides clues beforehand, hints or indications that only make sense at the end. In this case, it's more like the author decided "Well, I'm 99% done with this book and I think I really wish it was a different book, so I'm gonna tack on this totally different ending and hope no one calls BS." I'm calling BS right here, and I certainly won't be reading any sequels.

At a buck or for Prime Lending Library rates, this isn't a bad read. Most of the read is fun, and there are some really interesting ideas presented. Just don't expect an ending that makes sense, and be prepared to spend extra effort on suspending your disbelief in key places.
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on October 23, 2012
If there is one thing to be said about Darklandia, it is that you should go and pick it up, right now. No, seriously. If you enjoy distopian fiction of any flavor, chances are high that this book is one you will enjoy.

In the beginning of Darklandia we meet Sera, a young woman who lives in Manhattan. Not the Manhattan that we know; a Manhattan of the future, where your water is rationed and the nutrients you need to survive are given to you three times a day in a glass. A Manhattan where the subways are inaccessible to the general public, and where you must spend at least one hour every day in a virtual reality machine to soothe your "darkling" urges.

Everything in this Manhattan is controlled. There are security cameras everywhere, watching your every move. The bracelet on your wrist tells the government if you've been skipping your water rations, or if you haven't served your hour in the virtual reality world known as Darklandia. Your words have been filtered; words that have negative meanings have been filtered out of every day vocabulary, so only harmonious words are spoken.

In the beginning, Sera is happy with her life. Her great-grandmother, the last of the darklings from the time before Darklandia and the water rations, is nearing her rapture. When the time comes, Grandmother tells Sera one final thing, "It's in the water rations." These words start a cascade within Sera, driving her to become one of the rebels who are trying to wake up those suffering from the state known as "felicity".

Much of the imagery in this book lends itself to the post-apocalyptic genre; Manhattan decimated by civil war, but only outside of the areas where the government has corralled the people of the new nation of Atraxia. In one scene, Sera is walking with a friend of hers in an area of the city that she had never been to before, and she notices a fountain that is gushing crystal clear water. It is mentioned that it looks "obscene", because of how the citizens of Manhattan are forced to go weeks without washing their clothes or bodies due to the water restrictions.

One could also call this book a science fiction novel, what with its use of technology that is definitely futuristic. The Darklandia pods, where people experience the virtual reality simulations, are filled with a gel that recognizes each person and allows the Department of Felicity to give them personalized simulations that feel real. So real, in fact, the there are some citizens who have trouble differentiating between what is reality and what is not.

As the book continues, the tone becomes more rushed, like an action film that is charging headlong toward its climax. I was unable to tear myself away, unable to stop reading. The last few chapters had me tearing through each page, desperate to find out what would happen to Sera and her friends.

This is one book where I absolutely did not see the ending coming. The last couple of chapters are a huge twist, one that had me nearly in tears. Not that the ending was a disappointment; far from it. It was not the ending that I was expecting, but it was a perfect way to end the book. I can say that the ending felt like it absolutely destroyed me; it was so good, but I felt like it left me wanting more when there was none.

The way that it was all brought together in the end makes me wonder if there will be another book. Even if there isn't, Darklandia is a fantastic addition to Ms. Welti's growing list of novels, and would be a great addition to anyone's personal library. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
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on January 9, 2013
A well-crafted dystopian novel with a believable heroine who at first buys into the lies being told to the populace to keep them obediant and compliant with the regime.

The opening scene, in which the heroine's grandmother is delivered to her "rapture" before a crowd of thousands, is brilliantly executed and completely gripped me.

Right from that moment, the book is a page turner with few dull moments. A few things along the way didn't feel realistic or fully make sense. But I forgave them because I was being entertained, and because the writing is excellent.


And then the ending came. I won't disclose it, but I can say that, at least for me, entirely ruined my experience to the point where I wish I hadn't read the book. At first I wasn't sure I had even understood it. Then I went back and read it again, but then when I got it, I was deeply disappointed.

I hate spoilers and won't do one here, but I can say that the device used in the end is in my view simply a variation on an overused trope that I have always disliked. The first writer who thought up this "literary device," some time probably hundreds of years ago, was probably clever. But somewhere, maybe around 100 years ago or so, it got overdone. I was sick of this supposedly clever method of ending books by the time I was ten. There still may be a time and a place where it's effective, but in this novel, for me, it completely ruined the 180 excellent pages before it.
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on November 4, 2012
I love a piece of work that pulls you right in from the first page. There's not a page after page of background or history in the beginning.

The story of 17 year old Sera Fisk living in a sleepwalkers' world in future New York City will never leave my memory. I will always have unanswered questions. (Sequel / Prequel ???)

I love books were I am caught off guard. I enjoy them much more than predictable story lines. This novel really makes you ponder some issues of the current times and makes you question our own reality. How much of our lives are watched by others? How we are fed biased news stories on a daily basis from the main stream networks - not much different from controlling Atraxian citizens with their daily rations and pod visits?!?

I highly recommend this book if you like unpredictable outcomes, easily identifiable characters, and a story line that grabs ahold of you from the start!

A brilliant, fast-paced ingenious book!

I look forward to more books by T.S.Welti.
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on November 1, 2012
I have read science fiction/fantasy for about 40+ years, and I have to be honest, Ms. Welti is one of my new favorite authors. Being able to give life to characters to the point that I really care that their feelings get hurt, or that they are embarrassed is the touch of a great writer.

This story kept me reading until I was done, I'm in a bit of shock by the ending, didn't see that coming. The fact that everything tied seamlessly together gives me that itchy kind of feeling that I must have missed something, I should have seen it coming. That I didn't see it means I get to read it all over again with different eyes. I love books I can read more than once and get something new each time.

I highly recommend Darklandia, and I want more...please say there will be more!
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on November 28, 2012
This was a pretty complex novel, and the author was skillful enough to explain it to me! She kept me trying to figure out what was going on the whole time. The ending was clever though I didn't like whole Dallas - it was only a dream thing so much.
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on October 30, 2012
This is an amazing novel, a utopian-dystopian world and a teenager slowly becoming aware that the world around here is not as she's been led to believe. I found it reminiscent of young adult sci fi I loved as a kid, such as Devil on My Back by Monica Hughes, or more recent takes on the genre such as Maria V. Snyder's Inside Out. Perhaps Brave New World would be a closer match to the Felicity-medicated world in Darklandia, but regardless, Darklandia walks the careful line of feeling familiar without feeling unoriginal.

What blew me away the most is that even though I was noticing clues that should have led me to the shocking ending, I didn't make the connection until the very end. Masterfully done, and while I could see how others might feel unsatisfied, I thought it was brilliant.

It's quite the page turner: I caught myself finishing it hours past my bedtime. I highly recommend this one, especially to fans of this type of speculative/science fiction, just make sure not to start it too late in the evening!

I was fortunate enough to win this in a LibraryThing member giveaway, but regardless of how I obtained the book, I can honestly say that this is among the top books I've read this year... and it's nearly November! The rest of my reading list will have a lot to live up to.
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on March 29, 2013
The year is 2147 and Sera lives in a dark dystopian world, Atraxia. Her 114-year-old great grandmother is the last of the darklings. Before her great-grandmother is raptured for a crowd of people, she says it is "in the rations", so Sera stops drinking hers. In this world the people get all their nutrition through their "water rations". The rations take away people's emotions and make them obedient. Water is in short supply and everyone is filthy, but no one cares. Darklandia is a virtual reality pod where people can do horrible things. Taking away people's emotions to make them mindless robots has been used before in dystopias, the movie Equilibrium is an example. People being killed when they reach a certain age is also a popular dystopia theme. I like the way this book explored the theme, expanding upon it without being derivative. This book had themes reminiscent of The Matrix. This is an excellent young adult dystopia. Very scary. 5 stars.
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on November 4, 2012
This was my first opportunity to read work by T.S. Welti, and I was not dissapointed. No longer able to quite consider myself quite a Young Adult, I wondered if I wouln't be able to connect with the characters, but this was certainly not the case.

We are thrown straight into a dystonpian world, a post catastrophic scenario where life conversely appears on a first glance to be somewhat perfect, celebratory even. It however soon becomes evident that this facade is merely a point of view, and that the reality is that the society is stifled and oppressed, and that our hero Sera senses that something is horribly wrong in her world.

What is clear to see is Welti's thorough understanding of the sci fi/dystopian world genre, and her development of this society in which the characters live was detailed and believable. As the story progressed I found myself completely behind Sera, wondering how her life would turn out, would she make it, would she achieve her goals. In the final couple of chapters I was shocked by the ending, which is perfectly written for a sequal. I would gladly put myself on the waiting list to read it.

I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to all ages who enjoy this genre, and will certainly go back and check out the other previously published work by this talented writer.
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