Book Review: Aletheia by Megan Tennant
Set in a dystopian world where a deadly virus has decimated much of the human race, Aletheia takes readers on a grim but thoroughly gripping ride from the first page to the last. The story is told from the perspective of protagonist 736, a girl with a number instead of a name, which is all-too befitting of the role she has been given in society. Tasked with recovering various useful items from the ruins around the city of Iris where only the most privileged live, 736 faces the infected Depraved on a daily basis. But it's not only outside the walls of the underground compound where she lives that she must fight for survival. Danger lies within as well, and when changes come that only increase that danger even further, 736 must navigate new challenges in order to protect herself and those she cares about.
The world-building here is definitely one of the story's key strengths. There are enough familiar elements to clearly establish the story as a dystopia, but the author spends a lot of time really letting us dive into and explore the world and how it became the way it is now, along with all the societal and cultural implications that go along with that. While it does take some additional page time to explore these things, I never felt like the narrative dragged or was bogged down with too many unnecessary details. I liked learning about the different factions in the world who are all fighting for various levels of power and influence, not to mention just trying to survive, and I liked seeing how they all came at these issues from a different angle.
The characters who are caught up in these struggles each have their own distinct, realistically-portrayed motivations for getting involved, which makes the secondary characters just as interesting to read about and spend time with as the protagonist. 736 herself is very well-written, with a unique voice that made her stand out for me compared to so many other first-person perspectives we often get in these kinds of stories. I loved her fierce determination and refusal to give up, and her nuanced relationships with other characters in the story just made me love her even more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I can't wait for the sequel. Megan Tennant knows what she's doing and is an author to keep your eye on as she brings us more stories in the future.