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City of Savages by Lee Kelly

City of Savages

by Lee Kelly

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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906194,586 (3.5)3



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This book was pretty good for a dystopia. The background story on how it came to be was interesting and set it apart from other stories of this genre where most of the time it’s vague and no one remembers a thing because it was that many years later. So this was nice to read about. The plot alternates between Sky and Phee, but also some parts here and there from present to the past. I prefer reading about Phee because she’s the all around tough girl who can hold her own whereas Sky is more on the romantic idealistic side of things.

The flow of the story is good with stops here and there for character development and plot hooks. It’s engaging and interesting for a good part of the book until you read a little more than half of the novel. This is where the eye rolling instances come on. You knew the love triangle was going to happen. It got pretty nauseating and petty (but then again, Ryder was practically the only guy these two girls have met that they actually liked) and it severely hampered the plot. I didn’t care for this too much as it brought the plot to a complete halt and made reading it not as enjoyable. I begged for something better to come along.

To be fair, it got more interesting towards the final story arc, where you find out more truths about Sky and Phee’s family, and what happened in the past. Everything came to a nice close towards the end. The cheesy romance was still there and induced more eye rolls, but it was toned down for the latter part of the book.

Character wise, Phee would have to be the most interesting as she’s more aggressive of the two sisters and of a more stronger personality. She wasn’t a good match for Ryder anyway as they were just two very different people and completely incompatible but you kinda wish she found someone who’s just as tough as she is.

The romance nearly killed the book for me in this one. I’m glad I went through it as it proved to pick up the pace and went back on track. It’s a hidden gem and if you can get past the obvious, you’ll find a good dystopian story worth reading. ( )
  sensitivemuse | Oct 16, 2018 |
Good book! Told alternately by two sisters with very different personalities who are nonetheless close though they have their differences. ( )
1 vote NatalieSW | Nov 24, 2016 |
I still rest on what I said during an update: Sky's POV > Phee's POV. ( )
1 vote s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
I still rest on what I said during an update: Sky's POV > Phee's POV. ( )
1 vote s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
This is a story about family, and about Sisters Doin It For Themselves. It is also about a post-apocalyptic dystopia, set in Manhattan following a devastating war in the near future apparently started by China after a year of worldwide droughts and tension over trade.

In the summer, Sarah Miller and her daughters Sky (Skylar) 17, and Phee (Phoenix), 16, survive as they can, hunting the offspring of animals that were let loose from the zoo, or killing squirrels, or living off the small garden they have made on the roof of the abandoned building they inhabit. In the winter, all survivors in Manhattan (382 at the last census), officially prisoners of war, are required to come live in Central Park, where they all help work large farms and share food and lodging.

The “Warden” of these POWs is a woman called Rolladin, who rules with an iron hand, although she seems to have some sort of special relationship to Sarah and her children. Rolladin also has a guard called warlords (the girls call them “whorelords”) who help keep discipline, and who provide, it is believed, lovers to Rolladin.

The story begins on Phee’s sixteenth birthday, which is also the day of the mandatory annual census. Sarah wants the family to make a stop first to show them their old apartment where Sky was born, and while there, Sky finds a diary apparently written by her mom, and secretly takes it with her. Sarah will never talk about the past before the war, and the girls are desperate to know what happened.

Meanwhile, Rolladin, who is a firm believer of the time-tested bread and circuses method of rule, organizes yearly “games” in the park after the census. These games are actually brutal fights between warlords and would-be warlords. Because the Miller family is late for the census (Sarah sprained her ankle on the way back from the apartment), Rolladin punishes them by insisting one of them participate in the fights. Phee, the fiercest of the three, volunteers. To everyone’s surprise, she does well (even though she is saved from certain death at the end by Rolladin).

Phee considers what it would mean if she were to become a warlord, because her mother despises Rolladin. But she never has a chance to find out; several days later, some men are captured outside the park, bringing shocking secrets with them. The truth they bring changes everything, and the nature of survival changes radically for them.

Discussion: The story is told by alternating narration between Phee and Sky, and by excerpts from Sarah’s diary. The book has the pacing of a thriller, with plenty of twists (albeit with some - but not all - being fairly obvious). The author does a good job of making the two girls very dissimilar (Phee is mostly about emotion and Sky about reason) without stripping them of complexity. In addition, she nicely conveys the way in which the love and loyalty the members of the Miller family feel for one another transcend any differences.

And while the book employs plenty of “the usual” post-apocalyptic dystopia tropes and clichés, the author still manages to put a unique stamp on the story, first by the way in which she brings Manhattan to life as a prison, and secondly, by the way in which women dominate the action.

This book is marketed as adult science fiction, whereas I would put it in the YA/Adult post-apocalyptic category. I see no reason for it to be called “science fiction” and unfortunately, I think that will probably limit the audience. ( )
  nbmars | May 20, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lee Kellyprimary authorall editionscalculated
McCartney, MichaelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shea, ValerieCopy editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my sisters, Bridget and Jill. With them, there would be no Phee and Sky.
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"After the Red Allies turn New York City into a POW camp, two sisters must decipher the past in order to protect the future in this ... thriller with a dual narrative"--Amazon.com.

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