Friday, September 23, 2016

The Dream Protocol - Adara Flynn Quick

Book Details

Book Title: The Dream Protocol

Author: Adara Flynn Quick

: Adara Quick 2016

Source: Sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 137

Format/Genre: Paperback (Fantasy)

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-0991215041

Audience: Readers who enjoy swift and suspenseful novels with fantasy twist.

Summed up in one word: Promising

Author Bio: Adara Quick has had many jobs, including being a psychotherapist and a college professor. AQ uses her background in psychotherapy to create impressive and mind bending stories. The Dream Protocol is her first novel and the first instalment of a trilogy. 

First Impression: I have had this book on my wishlist for a long time, ever since I read The Fell Hound Of Adversity by Parker T. Geissel and saw an excerpt from this in the back pages of the e-book. Out of the blue, Adara got in contact with me and offered to send me a copy in exchange for a review! It didn't take me long to finish this piece, it is a slim volume at just over 130 pages, though it is packed full of imaginative content and radiates potential for an awesome trilogy.

Summary/Intro: Welcome to Skellig City, a subterranean zone created to ensure the safety of the human population. Due to the severe lack of space provided by an underground city, The Ministry that runs Skellig City have implemented a rule that anyone over the age of 35 is to be classified as 'ruined'. The 'ruined' participate in the 'Ritual of Descent' which takes them to the afterlife known as 'Tir na Nog'. (So many apostrophes, I'm sorry!)

From the age of 16, citizens are put through a 'selection test' which designates their job for the entirety of their working lives until they reach 35. The Ministry monitor the citizens, making sure they do not step out of line, policing them with Drones and surveillance technology. The one escape that citizens can experience are dreams, if you can afford it. The Dream Makers craft new and exciting dreams every day and for the right price, citizens can populate these dreams outside of their working hours.

Deirdre Callaghan is the daughter of two Dream Makers. Deirdre only truly cares for 3 things, Flynn, Antrim and getting out of Skellig City and seeing the real life blue sky. A few problems stand in her way. No one is allowed to leave the city. Her mother is due for descent any day now. And her boyfriend/co-conspirator Flynn has a rare genetic ageing disorder and some important people want to make an example out of him by scheduling him for an early descent.


Story/Plot/Narration: The Dream Protocol is a love story combined with a escape attempt, wrapped in fantasy and set in a futuristic dystopian world. Though not the most original idea, the execution of this book is top quality and I am excited to read on when Book 2 arrives. Written in the 3rd person, we follow both Deirdre and Flynn as they fight to stay alive and escape the confines Skellig City and the clutches of the sinister Ministry. The story kicks into gear when Deirdre's close family friend goes through the 'Ritual of Descent'. Before Maeve descends she passes on a message to Deidre and sets her on the path to her escape from the city. 

Before she can contemplate the warning that she is given, Flynn is publicly revealed to have an ageing disorder that puts him above the age of descent. Ageing is seen as a disease in Skellig City.

"Flynn looked unnaturally old. Ruined. And no one wanted to catch it. No one even wanted to be near it." (Page 11 The Dream Protocol)

After a brief escape, Flynn is imprisoned by the Medical Director and is prepared for an early descent to be made an example of. Deirdre, along with her best friend Antrim, have organise a breakout scenario and save their friend. The Ministry strive to keep everyone under their thumb and they punish anyone who steps out of bounds.

"The Ministry Provides" (mandatory phrase for all citizens - The Dream Protocol)

Unfortunately, due to living in a cramped city driven by a overpowered government body, life gets in the way. From her parents getting on her case, to her new, strange dream program, Red Oak. Deirdre must take on everything that comes her way to save Flynn from certain death.

Genre/Writing Style: Though it sounds quite harsh, the writing style is relatively tame, with no swearing or violence, This is fantasy story suitable for a wider aged audience. Some may disagree with me slightly here, due to several themes that may be deemed unsuitable, for example, premature death/ritual execution. The Dream Protocol slots nicely into the fantasy genre, not pushing the boundaries too much, but it is original enough to turn some heads. 

Futuristic, thoughtful and detailed, the world that Adara Quick has fashioned in her mind is impressive, with interesting technological ideas like the arachnid implant that every citizen from the age of 16 must have connected to their brains via their neck, this allows them to be monitored 24/7, experience dreams and connect to the city's cloud network. 

Character interaction is key in this book, Adara Quick manages to flow in and out of each characters perspective with ease. This is a battle against authority and as Deirdre's confidence increases so does the intensity if the foe she has to conquer. 

Setting: TDP being set in the distant future when humanity is finding it harder to survive without struggling for food or a safe place to live gives AQ a lot of room for her imagination to take us to new and interesting places and I believe she did a great job. Skellig City is an underground civilization that has been closed off from the surface and the citizens have to use dream technology to live outside its boundaries.

The Ministry rule the city with an iron fist, using surveillance to monitor each member of the community. The setting definitely constricts the characters during the story, influencing their every choice/decision. The setting also dictates how the story unfolds due to the characters constantly having to fend off or avoid the guards or technology that monitor them 24/7. 

Characters: Having the 3 significant age groups works well to create an intense atmosphere. With the children not understanding why they have to leave at the age of 35. The adults have to both inform the children of the reasons behind the descent whilst also coming to terms with their own premature deaths. And finally the 'ruined' who are seen as filth that need discarding before they corrupt the younger generations.

Deirdre is your run of mill rascal, a coming of age teen who does not want to conform to society and wants to break free from the chains of a corrupt and evil government. All she really wants is her freedom, her friends and her family.

"It's operation Blue Sky, isn't it? I want to find it. See it with my own eyes and not through some data packets transmitted through the Ministry." (The Dream Protocol page 53)

Though I am very interested in seeing how she progresses throughout the trilogy and how she participates in the outcome of prophecy that she and her sister are involved in. 
Flynn is an interesting choice of character, tailored to cause maximum chaos in this highly strung society. His aging disorder has left him looking decades older than he truly is, but he still retains the youthful vigour of his 15 year old self. Can he survive long enough to escape?

There is a wonderful dreamy edge to this fiction that I really enjoy, AQ has shown such promise when it comes to imagery and I am seriously looking forward to when she evolves this world in the future. The main theme/message I got from TDP is that you should never take a situation lying down, no matter how bad it looks, there is always another way to look at a problem. The other theme that, to myself, shows through is that there is always someone above the person in charge, so keep that in mind when you challenge someone.

Likes/Dislikes: I enjoyed AQ's work. I definitely love the potential for an impressive trilogy. I was not a fan of the length, I could have done with a lot more, but it is AQ's job to keep us waiting for more. I felt that events got so intense in this book and it had me hooked, then it is like AQ remembered that it is a trilogy and reeled it back in almost to square one and I was left with so many questions. Never mind, I only have to wait until winter :)

Overall Opinion: An enjoyable, exciting and dreamy journey through an unique and original setting. Though I was left wanting more, I still recommend this book to all those fantasy/adventure readers out there. Though if you want a more depth and content I would wait until all three instalments are released first.


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