Archive of the Fives, Book 1
Paperback | Kindle
By Stacey Rourke
Publisher: Black Spot Books
Release date: February 12, 2019
In Apocalypse 5, author Stacey Rourke introduces readers to a team of five early teenaged warriors who train mercilessly to protect the people of the starship AT-1-NS from any and all threats. They run virtual reality simulations nearly daily, but, despite being virtual, these trainings can result in death to the team members if they fail, at which time a new member will be promoted to the A5’s elite ranks.
However, when the team uncovers a conspiracy that runs right up the ranks to the very top of the AT-1-NS‘s leadership, the hunters become the hunted. I’m sorry I cannot go into the plot a little more, but this book is a mere 200 pages long (at least my review copy was, anyway). If I dig too deep, I may as tell you the whole thing!
Rourke is clearly tapping into the post-apocalyptic vibe of young adult novels that is so prevalent these last 10 years or so. But she’s tapping a little too deeply, as it feels like the book is trying too hard to be just like books/series such as The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, Divergent, and even a splash of old school Starship Troopers for good measure.
The difference comes in that Rourke has built her story around characters that are even younger than what is to be found in most of the other YA action/adventure/science fiction today. This can be both good and bad. Good because it taps into an ever more youthful market as they get to read about themselves as the heroic protagonists of a genre they may just be tapping into for the first time. But bad because I felt a bit alienated reading it. I have no issue reading YA books because I’m willing to give them a little leeway on how they act. Yeah, sometimes they are more mature than you might expect. But this was a whole new level of suspension of disbelief. I was having trouble buying into the maturity level of the characters. I actually do remember being 13 and, even with a lifetime of training, I’m not sure I’d ever be at this level of preparation. Grown adults with decades of military experience move aside with hushed awe and reverence when the A5 walks into a room.
Then there’s the question of language. These kids are supposed to be very mature for their age, yet, sometimes, they browbeat each other with what can only otherwise be viewed as juvenile language that feels like a bad fit given what’s going on around them.
I realize that, to quote Whitney Houston, “the children are our future” and there has been a major run of teenaged self-empowerment in the post-Parkland era, but this does not seem a natural progression for that movement.
The end of the world is coming. How or when, scientists can’t agree upon. For decades, Earth’s best line of defense has been a team of young soldiers known as the Apocalypse Five, forced into virtual reality simulations to train for Doom’s Day. But, this is no game. Death on the grid is brutally final and calls up the next in a long line of cadets. Stationed aboard the AT-1-NS Starship, the A5 are celebrities thrust into the limelight by a calling they didn’t choose. All it takes is one unscheduled mission, showing seventeen-year-old team leader Detroit a harsh and unfathomable reality, to shake the A5’s belief in all they thought they knew. After questioning people with the power to destroy them, the team is framed for a crime they didn’t commit and marked for death. Now, the hunt is on. Can the Apocalypse Five expose the truth the starship would kill to keep hidden? Or, will their bravery end in a public execution?