I heard this book described as "post-apocalyptic Apache steam-punk" and I had to read it. The main character is as tough as Katniss (Hunger Games) or Cassie (The Fifth Wave) and is grounded in the traditions of her Apache, Navajo, and Pueblo ancestors. Her name is Lozen, and she can track, hunt, and fight with all the skill of her historical namesake. She lives in a world that no longer has electricity, cars, planes, computers, radios... nothing electromagnetic. The older survivors remember space flight and maglev transportation, nanobots for medical treatments, bionic enhancements and augmentations, but that is all over now. Fortunately, Lozen's family was not wealthy enough to have any of the enhancements so they were not killed or maimed by the failure of those gadgets as many of the rich and powerful were.
Our protagonist has been trained in the traditional ways of her ancestors to live off the land and find harmony with nature. She also has been taught modern combat techniques, since her father and uncle were both in the special forces before they came home to their family. Because of her talents, she is forced into the role of monster-slayer by an enclave of some powerful survivors. They hold her family hostage to insure her cooperation and send her out to kill the gemods (genetically modified) beasts that have escaped from the zoos and homes of the wealthy, now that electrified fences and other electronic security is nonfunctional. Lozen does as she is ordered, but she is also planning for the escape of her family and caching weapons, food, and water out in the desert away from the compound known as Haven.
I enjoyed the story immensely. The strong female, her use of traditional stories to help her find ways to defeat her foes, the respect for nature that allowed her family to survive in the first place, the gripping action and tense confrontations with her "bosses," all add up to a great reading experience. I highly recommend it to any readers who like action, adventure, dystopian or post-apocalyptic settings, female characters that can kick butt and maintain their attitude, or stories that show how Native American stories and traditions find a place in whatever the setting or time period happens to be. For those who want to know more about those traditions Lozen honors, the author has included a bibliography of titles about the Apache (Tinneh) nation. This is a Yong Adult novel.
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