In Divided We Fall, YA author Trent Reedy, writer of award-winning novel, Words in the Dust, presents a pre-dystopian novel of political and moral conflict. The first installment in what is set to be a trilogy, Reedy opens the triad off by introducing readers to protagonist Danny Wright and his unintentional involvement in the unraveling of democracy as we know it. The “incident” proves to be the breaking point between already feuding Federal and State governments and also incites antagonism not just between political parties, but friends and neighbors as well. Engaging readers to contemplate where their loyalties lie, and what if anything do they owe to State and Country, Divided We Fall is a pointedly plausible and sporadically realistic read.
With an interesting tag line, “I am Private First Class Daniel Cristopher Wright, I am seventeen years old, and I fired the shot that ended the United States of America.”, and a stirring cover depicting destruction and battle, Divided We Fall beckons readers to render their attention. The premise of the story in the first half of the novel creates piqued curiosity because of its plausibility in the ever escalating feuds between State and Federal Government on what is “acceptable” governing. However, interest may dissipate towards the middle as depictions of a feuding America and Danny’s dilemma become background noise to the increase of irrelevant, cheesy teenage behavior by protagonist and friends. Their fallible antics line up more with the cartoonish gang that has a dog and unmasks caped crusaders–creating a hot and cold plotline. You may find the story to lag as suspenseful situations give way to another teen party, sexist comments, and immature dialogue. True, this is a story told from the perspective of a seventeen year old, red state, country-loving boy, but the lack of substance can be an increasingly strong turn-off.
An enjoyable and creative move by the author to incorporate news blurbs and social media accounts at the end of each chapter was an authentic approach to familiarize readers in the political and local reactions of Danny’s world. Ending with an action movie-like scene, what could be the promise of a love triangle, and a kindling political cliffhanger, readers who enjoy bureaucratic dramatization and teenage shenanigans will embrace the next two installments of the Divided We Fall trilogy.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic
Profanity/Language: 8 religious exclamations; 88 mild obscenities; 19 derogatory names; 75 scatological words; 47 anatomical terms, 1 obscene hand gesture.
Violence/Gore: Football scene-player knocks another player down; character recalls drill sergeant making a non-committal verbal threat; brief scene news report of violence; few (about 3) brief mentions of destruction of property, such as overturned cars, looting, fires; character hits another character in the face with the butt of a gun breaking character’s nose; brief scene character reports many incidents of violence happening throughout the city; extended scene (about 1 page) character gives firsthand account of people being shot; character surveys aftermath of violence, depictions of death, blood, and gore; character reports casualties and injuries; second hand report of character committing suicide; brief scene character is hit and tackled during football game, verbally threatened by opposing team members; (about 3 paragraph) scene in which character is involved in a physical altercation, blood mentioned; extended scene (about 1 page) characters engage in a physical altercation, blood mentioned; character recalls past brawls; character witnesses fights breaking out in a crowd; character recounts news report of soldiers deaths in war; extended scene (about 1 page) social media and new reports of violence; brief scene news report of violence; extended scene (about 1.5 page) shooting scene; brief but descriptive bloody medical scene; character hits another character, blood mentioned; extended scene (about 1 page) characters engage in physical altercation, same scene escalates into intense violence, descriptive scene in which character is shot; extended scene (about 4 pages) characters are involved in a high speed pursuit and shoot out, character is shot (non-descriptive) another character is shot (descriptive) results in death, character is injured; character has a nightmare involving wounded characters (somewhat descriptive); brief scene character acts physically aggressive towards another character; descriptive scene in which characters watch another character being shot to death on a news reel; brief scene news blurb reporting violence.
Sex/Nudity: Minors kiss and or embrace several (less than 15) times; minors flirt over text (somewhat sexual in nature); brief descriptive scene in which minors kiss; characters (minors) flirt with one another; report of minors engaging in sexual activity; brief scene (about 1 paragraph) minors engage in sexual activity without explicit detail; implied on several (less than 20) occasions that a teenage character is sexually active/has been active with multiple partners; few (about 5) implications that a couple (minors) have engaged in sexual activity with one another; character uses an object to make a sexual reference and joke; scene in which character’s phone depicts a pornographic image which speaks sexually; brief scene in which a character walks in on a minor (17 year old male) and an adult (female known to be older than 20) in what could be a sexual act, adult character has to button up shirt; character has a dream where he/she kisses another character; minors kiss (descriptive) and are sexually flirtatious.
Mature Subject Matter:
Underage drinking, underage sex, emotionally unstable parent, death of parent(s), State and Federal battle/conflict, violence/ war.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Teens plan a party in which beer will be served; a few scenes (less than 10) in which an adult character smokes cigarettes; mention of drunk protesters; party scene with underage drinking; a few (five or less) scenes in which minor smokes a cigarette/cigar; minors drink alcohol from a flask; solitary minor drinks vodka mixed with lemonade; minor takes alcohol from parents and shares with friends; party scene with underage drinking, authorities allow party to continue without repercussions and take some alcohol with them, minor admits to brewing and selling beer.