Ways of the Doomed, by Moira McPartlin, is a YA novel set in a dystopian future where society has been divided into Privileged and Native based on genetics. The natives serve the privileged and it is expected that they be treated as less than human, never referred to by name, and disposed of if they fail to perform as required. Lives are strictly controlled and constantly observed. Transgressors from both castes are quickly removed, never to be heard from again.
The protagonist, Sorlie, is the only child of military parents whom he believes are well regarded. When they are away on missions Sorlie is cared for by the family native. He has observed that his parents treat her with frowned upon kindness. At sixteen his concerns are for the quality of his gaming machine and his status amongst his peers at the Academy where he is educated. He has learned not to question the status quo.
All of this changes when he is forced to flee the family home and live with his grandfather who runs an island penal colony. In the days leading up to this shocking transition both his father and their native had tried to explain some of his personal history along with the truth behind the setting up of the societal structure in which they live. It is all too much for Sorlie to take in and he struggles to contain his anger and despair at his sudden change in circumstances.
On the island his freedom is curtailed and he slowly begins to understand the horrors of the place in which he now resides. With the help of a prisoner assigned to assist with his education he hatches a plan to escape. His problems escalate when he realises that those he trusts have a more audacious plan in which he is expected to play an integral part. The new world order may have eradicated religion but it has been replaced by a different kind of belief.
The tension builds nicely as the story progresses. I felt Sorlie’s irritation as he was treated as a child and then expected to accept the adult plans without question. It is rarely clear who can be trusted or whose side they are on.
This is the first book in a planned trilogy. Although it stands alone it sets the scene for further action and intrigue as the political landscape of this world and its factions are revealed. An enjoyable read and proof once again that YA novels can be appreciated by all. I look forward to reading the sequels.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Saraband Books.