The Second Born, the review

The Second Born, the review
The Second Born - May the Rebellion Begin is the new young adult science fiction novel that represents the first chapter of the trilogy created by Amy A. Bartol. In it, the futuristic scenario conceived by the author comes to life in which a rich and privileged caste on the one hand and, on the other, all those individuals who have no rights for one reason only: to be born second-born. A dystopian world that rests on machinations and deceptions against the backdrop of an endless war waged by those who reject the status quo.

We have delved into the pages of The Second Born and we tell you what we think about it through our review.

Being Second Born

Amy A. Bartol is already used to writing young adult novels and with The Secondborn (The Secondborn, the original title) it is evident that his narrative skills have already been tested and perfected. She is in fact the award-winning author of the series of novels The Premonition and The Kricket, and with The Second Born she does not stop at a single self-contained novel, but creates a trilogy, published by Armenia. It is therefore necessary to make it clear immediately that, following the reading of this novel, it will be necessary to wait for the publication of the next ones to discover the fate of the protagonist Roselle St. Sismode.

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She is a second child, trained to fight since she took her first steps, born and raised in one of the most influential families in the world. A world as avant-garde as it is unfair and merciless, located in an indefinite point of a distant future in which, the technology of fusion swords and super-fast flying means, is joined by a system of government that implies wealth and privileges only for the firstborn . Whoever was born second must serve the first or be sent to the front. Who was born third, must die.

On the day of her transition to the military career reserved for all of Spade's second-born children, Roselle knows she is leaving her old life to start a new, fatal and probably little long-lived existence on the battlefields. What he does not know, however, is that on this very day a terrorist attack was organized by the rebels, The Soldiers of the Dawn, which claims numerous victims and leaves the young fighter without her "identity": the holographic marker in able to attest to who she really is is in fact disabled by the pulse technology of the rebels.

Finally reaching the Stone Forest, the place where she will have to live and train from now on, Roselle St. Sismode is captured, imprisoned and tortured by some agents of the census, a sort of military police very similar to an inquisition, as accused of being a rebel in disguise. Providential is her release from prison by some Swords (as the soldiers are called) among which Roselle will find trusted friends who will support her in this new, brutal life as a second-born Sword.

A life destined to be further upset when Roselle will choose to save a wounded enemy soldier on the battlefield, rather than eliminate him, while the Census is breathing down her neck accusing her of treason; meanwhile, behind her, plots and machinations inherent to her very existence and to the role that some members of a secret society would like her to play are being consummated: that of the first-born ruler.

That world you don't expect

One of the strong points of the novel The Second Born is undoubtedly its setting. Amy A. Bartol has created a place that evokes futuristic scenarios made not by huge gray barracks dotted with innumerable signs and cables, but architectures soaring up to the sky in the shapes of gigantic swords or trees; magnificent gardens where cyborg dogs roam; immense richly decorated portals and buildings made of glass windows and ethereal platforms on which holograms come to life. It is an exquisitely science-fiction setting, even if only for the presence of ubiquitous drones, flying vehicles and cutting-edge technologies for what concerns armaments. However, it sometimes seems to be among those places often described within another literary genre, fantasy, among trees with rich ramifications that stretch out to create real cities or imposing and slender architecture. The result is surprising and manages to create a new world, a futuristic dystopia that has ties to an arcane past. A real dystopian fantasy, if you like.

Even the social hierarchies that stratify the society of The Second Born seem to have an ancient style, based on the family rank. The Republic described by Bartol is made up of nine castes called Fates and each of them carries out a certain sector, such as engineering for the Fate of Atoms, manual work for the Fate of Stones or the war field for Fate. of Spade. Being born in a Fate means growing up and staying there forever, without the possibility of being able to choose one's destiny or ambitions. A government with a reactionary flavor disguised as a republic that contributes to defining a well-developed setting, simple in its mechanisms but effective for the purpose of constructing this new science fiction imaginary in which the presence of rebels who oppose certain constraints is inevitable.

It is evident how the author has borrowed some elements already known in other literary and cinematographic universes. The Second Born can then be considered a sort of mix between Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Star Wars. The presence of the latter is felt for example when the protagonists use their fusion swords, which seem to recall the famous lightsabers of the franchise. Bartol, however, manages to create his own universe, new and fresh, despite the references to the influences of other works, and it is interesting to imagine how it could be visually rendered on a cinematic level, since it already seems to work very well on paper.

Pros and Cons

The structure of The Second Born holds up. It is enriched by a rather engaging narrative full of intrigues that thicken the plot, at the heart of which we find Roselle St. Sismode, the protagonist. A young woman who fights for her life, touching death more than once, but who, despite her fear, stops at nothing, opening the way with strength and ingenuity. She is a well-characterized character, who makes us feel decisively the presence of her already strong of her through the story in the first person, narrated in the present. It is easy to cheer for Roselle, because she represents what we all might like to be a bit, and following her dangerous and reckless deeds is one of the reasons why The Second Born is inevitably devoured. However, perhaps the same cannot be said of its supporting actors.

I Secondogeniti is a science fiction novel, but it still belongs to the broader young adult genre and as such is based on two fundamental points: friendships and sensual-loving bond. Roselle establishes both in the course of her military career, but it seems that those who are closest to her possess a lesser depth, a less thorough characterization. On closer inspection, the most memorable characters are those present in a few pages, those who make brief appearances and then make other paths or pass away, and it's a real shame. It remains to be seen, in any case, how they will present themselves in the next two chapters of the trilogy.

Another note that is somewhat out of place in the novel as a whole is the presence of those few passages that tell sequences of events unlikely: we are struggling with a fictional narrative, it is true, however it is possible to sometimes find ourselves faced with little logical facts that even in a series of young adult novels would have no reason to exist. This first novel, however, can be forgiven, balancing action, intrigue and romance well, against the backdrop of a very interesting fantasy-sci-fi setting.

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