City of the Falling Sky: The Seckry Sequence, Book One
by Joseph Evans
Fourteen-year-old Seckry had a home… until the Endrin Corporation coerced the government to condemning the entire village and moving them to Skyfall City. Now he has to deal with the culture shock of an urban area, a packed school, and a corrupt police force.
As Seckry struggles to adjust to his new way of life, a mysterious offer sends him to break into Endrin headquarters and steal… worms.
But as he does so, he meets a mysterious girl with no memory of her past and no idea why she’s sitting in a mud bank with worms.
Now Seckry’s on the run from the most powerful corporation on the planet with a girl that shouldn’t exist and a bunch of worms that are worth people’s lives. Will he make it through term at his new school without his teachers killing him? Will he discover the secret of the Divinita Project? And will he ever discover the secret behind his very existence, and why his mother named him after the Son of Gedrin, who saved the planet 2000 years ago?
Probably not. He’s got bigger things to deal with.
Evans has created a fun little world here, just a smidge from our own. It felt a lot like Harry Potter in a dystopian setting. Seckry comes as an outsider to a unique school. An imaginary sport is all the rage – in this case a sort of virtual reality Pokemon. While the headmaster is a lovable and wise goof, one teacher is out to kill Seckry. A plot follows the entire year’s worth of school hijinks, splicing together various threads while leaving much for the following stories. And, beyond all this, Seckry pictures a messiah-like figure.
The story also felt decidedly British; I’m not sure if Evans is from across the pond from me or if he just apes the style well, but he included more than a few Britishicisms.
I did feel that Seckry suffered “main character-itis” more than a little; certain things happened to him because… he was the main character. No other reason, it seems. Yes, he discovers his unique origins that do excuse some events, but other plot twists happen simply because he’s the main character. At the same time, especially at the climax, I felt like I was watching someone else’s story through Seckry’s eyes. Secondary and even tertiary characters get huge moments that felt unearned in this story; I guess it felt like I was glimpsing someone else’s story imposing on Seckry’s tale.
The climax also left a lot to be desired. Rather than wrapping everything together, and then having just an epilogue or single chapter of falling action, we had a climax, and then a chapter for each of the various loose ends. While the ending didn’t drag, it felt… misplaced. I’m not sure if this is because of the multi-book nature of the series or poor writing – or simply a different style!
On the other hand, the voyage to the climax was a lot of fun. Seckry’s exploration of his school and mysterious background made for entertaining reading. The other characters are clearly defined and bounce off Seckry in appropriate ways.
Evans’ choice of a Messiah-like character provided some interesting moments I didn’t feel he explored well. Seckry was named after the hero Seckraman who appeared 2000 years before to save the world from a terrible meteor. It felt very Final Fantasy-esque. In the end, the religious connections were treated rather flippanlyt, rather than having the weight such revelations should really have. The truth is revealed to the main characters… and they joke about it. Again, I enjoyed the build-up, but the payoff just didn’t work.
Of course, I’m assuming that book one ends that thread. If he uses this as set-up for book two, I could be swayed another direction.
Was the book any good? Considering I got it for free (and you still can for the nook!), it was better than most other free books I’ve read. It excelled over many other self-published works I’ve read. It was worth more than I paid for it. I’d be willing to pay a few bucks for it, but if it was a “Standard” price I’d probably be disappointed.
So there’s my two cents. But it’s free, so you risk nothing but time checking it out for yourself!