Book 58 of 2015: Prophet of the Badlands by Matthew Cox



For most twelve year olds, being kidnapped is terrifying. For Althea, it’s just Tuesday.

Her power to heal the wounded and cleanse the sick makes her a hunted commodity in the Badlands, a place devoid of technology where the strong write the law in blood. For as long as she can remember, they always come, they always take her, and she lets them. Passed around in an endless series of abductions, she obeys without question―mending those who killed to own her.

After three whole months in the same village, the affection of a young warrior makes her feel almost like a member of the tribe rather than a captive. Her brief joy shatters when raiders seize her yet again; for the first time in six years, being stolen hurts.

A reluctant escape sends her wandering, and she realizes her gift is a prize that causes as much death as it prevents. Her attempt to return to the tribe leaves her lost and alone, hounded at every turn. When a family who sees her not as the Prophet―but as a little girl―takes her in, she finds the courage to use her power to protect those she loves.

A strange man from a world beyond her imagining tests her newfound resolve, seeking to use her power to further his own agenda. Tired of being property, her freedom boils down to one question:

Can Althea balance the sanctity with which she holds all life against the miserable truth that some people deserve to die?

Let me begin by saying that I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press. It is for an honest review.

Now that’s out of the way, I need to say that Prophet of the Badlands was a book I had to put down on numerous occasions. There could be many reasons why I would do this. Maybe I had a busy family life, time constraints on other books, the book may have been terrible, or perhaps parts of the story were too upsetting to be taken in large doses. For me, this book was more of the last reason and a bit of the first (family issues aren’t for a review, but they were there).

The first thing that came to my mind was: Mad Max. The Badlands and the people residing in them were very much like the bullet holed cars and bald headed creepers that the Mad Max movies comprise of. These bad guys don’t hold back in their actions. Their evil is commonplace, but doesn’t make them any less evil.

That said, as the story progressed, there was more to it than men in torn clothes stealing a little girl for profit (no pun intended on the title). The world has a history that, if you are new to, you learn through minor things gathered from an illiterate innocent child. I still don’t know the full story about the world, but I am more than intrigued. I would come back to this world. There are cities very similar to Fifth Element meeting Bladerunner bordered by a world likening to Mad Max. What made this world come to be? What kind of war could do this? You get some answers, but you are left wanting more (in a fun way, not in a “I need to know to understand the story” way).

Althea, our twelve year old main character, is a special child. She’s pale with blonde hair and unusual eyes. They glow. She is a commodity in the Badlands. Throughout the tribes and raiders, she is known as the Prophet. She can heal people, speak through the mind, and can make a person feel something they never had before. To the civilized world, we find out who she is, but for the Badlands, Althea is a rare being.

The first thirty percent was a bit slow for me. We aren’t introduced to the family the blurb suggests right away. Instead, we are met with Althea’s first love and her abduction away from him. This abduction leads to new people who introduce her to new thoughts and emotions. Something inside her is stirring.

After that thirty percent, the book gets fast. Althea grows and makes decisions that had me at the edge of my seat. I wanted her to pull through. I had to set aside the book each time her life seemed just too bleak, but couldn’t leave the world because I needed to know that she would survive. Her innocence and need to take care of people resonated in me. Yes, she was innocent, but she wasn’t the kind of innocence that you’d want to smack. Althea chose to be innocent. She chose to help people even if they were evil to her. She chose to value life over anything else. Qualities that I have to applaud.

By the time I reached the fifty mark, Althea’s life makes yet another turn. In that moment, most of my questions were answered. A new world was introduced. A new life as well. However, I kept wanting Althea to have something more. I wanted her to be happy.

The book ended beautifully. Since this is in a series, I can be sure that the questions I have or even the excitement of the world will continue. What I’ve also noticed is that this world is the setting in other books by Matthew Cox. I may need to read those in the future as well.

This is a must read for Sci-Fi/dystopian lovers. It has everything I could want in a book of that genre. I loved every bit of it. I loved the strong emotions it gave me. I loved the attatchment I had for Althea. I loved the inventiveness of the world and the hints at what made the world come to be. I loved it from the beginning to the end.

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