Publisher: Self Published
Length: 226 pages
Since witnessing her parents' murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix's only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother's dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, "Join or die." Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. Trusting no one, she lives as a rogue, fending only for herself. Then in a moment of rash judgment, she breaks all of her rules to save a child, and in that moment her life is turned upside down. When the rescue mission goes awry, Phoenix is captured by an underground group who claims no allegiance with either the Tribes nor The Sanctuary. She finds herself in the most dangerous game of survival she has ever played. In her captivity, only one person- the handsome and oddly sympathetic Triven- shows Phoenix something she has never before experienced: kindness. While warring with unfamiliar emotions and still skeptical of her captors' motives, Phoenix quickly realizes that these people may just hold the key to her lost memories. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.
So I have to admit that New World: Rising was an impulse purchase made last month because of the hype I had heard about it on Booktube from Sarah Churchill and Benjaminoftomes. Both were raving about this book, claiming it to be the next dystopian series to look out for. Now you guys know I love a good dystopian book, it's probably my favourite genre of book, so when I saw that this was not only an upcoming dystopian series but also was self-published by the author herself, I knew I had to try this out. To be honest I have to say that I wasn't disappointed with this book - it promised a solid dystopian setting and interesting characters, even if I had one or two slight issues with it but we'll get to those later. So enough summary, what did I think?
Cover- The crumbling buildings and wrecked foreground really give a dystopian vibe from this cover, and as it should because that is exactly what this book features. I love the smokey effect and I think the font is very bold and futuristic, although keeping with the simplistic look it's not overpowering. The colour scheme used, the bold green against the plain white is very appealing to look at, it literally screams look at me and forces you to look at all of the miniature details hidden behind what looks to be a very intriguing cover.
Design - I don't usually mention overall design of the books in my reviews but I wasn't quite sure where to mention this and it's definitely a feature that I thoroughly appreciated in New World: Rising. Not only do we get a map of Tartarus in this book, which is extremely helpful if you're trying to navigate the story in your head, but we also get hand-drawn images of each of the tribes and their traits. You can see examples of all of these here on my Instagram - aren't they stunning. I found these to be a really unique feature that you don't see in a lot of books these days, you get maps but you never get detailed images of characters to aid with the descriptions! You find as well in the story that these images seem to be taken out of a notebook which plays a minor role in Phoenix's story and a major role in her survival.
Plot - Now a dystopian novel wouldn't be dystopian without a crumbling society and the spark of rebellion in the plot and New World: Rising gives us just that. The plot was very fast paced and exhilarating, but never jumped around too fast so that you weren't taking in all of the detail. Jennifer Wilson does a brilliant job of enticing the reader with her words and allowing them to absorb all of the surroundings that Phoenix passes by. The writing style is extremely vivid and flows beautifully, it's detailed without overloading the reader with countless metaphors and rebellious tropes - something that I'm afraid I've seen a lot of recently in attempted dystopian-eque novels. Tartarus is a city split up into tribes, each with their own virtues and Phoenix is the only exception to the rule, or so she thinks. When she saves the life of an innocent little girl from a group of Ravagers, she is thrown into a world of new found rebellion. Now originally when I read this book I was a bit skeptical to whether being the only person not to join a tribe in the entirety of the city (besides The Subversive) was wholly believable. Surely there would be others out there, avoiding the system just as she was. I think I would have liked to see more insight into the possibility of others. In such a huge city I found it slightly unrealistic that she would be totally alone in her endeavours for six years. In terms of things about the plot I would have liked to have seen, I would have liked to see more involvement with the other tribes. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to the various tribes and their respective traits, but we only really ever see mention of two; the ravagers and the wraiths while we got to visit characters beyond the tribes, such as The Healer and I would have liked to have seen some development on the minor characters. In the next book I am hoping that we get to see more involvement of the other tribes - especially some battle scenes between different tribes because I think with their individual ways of killing, that would be interesting to read about. I also complained in my notes earlier on that I would have liked to have seen more involvement with Mouse's character considering she was what really set off this plot for Phoenix, but as the ending drew closer and closer we slowly got to see more involvement from her which I was very pleased about and the ending leaves us on a cliffhanger that promises so much more from her, perhaps even a backstory to why she ran away from The Sanctuary. Speaking of the ending, my goodness it was dramatic and shocking! My heart was pounding in those final few pages and when I saw the end of the last chapter I was internally screaming, why would you leave it there?! I need more now! All props go to Jennifer for that because that was an amazing use of suspense, even if I sort of hate you for leaving us until July before the next book! However, not everything can be perfect, the ending did leave me wondering whether it should have ended slightly sooner? It's just my opinion but I felt that entering the city could have been a nice ending to kind of round off what Phoenix and The Subversive had been building up too the entire book. I also think the suspenseful ending would have made a really good opener to the book to certainly grip the readers in!
Characters- Now this book introduced us to many characters, our main protagonist Phoenix, the oddly sympathetic Triven, the adorable and silently sweet Mouse as well as a variety of other characters both inside the world of Tartarus and from inside The Subversive. Now when I originally read Phoenix's name as the main character I instantly was curious to Jennifer's choice of name. It's not the most usual of names to have I must admit, but when we were made aware that it was infact the character of Phoenix herself that chose her name, and her real name is personally forgotten, it made total sense! Like a Phoenix itself, she has shed her previous life and rose out of the ashes new and more dangerous than before. I loved that! As for Phoenix herself she was strong, hearty, feisty and extremely moralistic but behind her survival facade she revealed innocence, compassion and friability. In this sense it made her character extremely relatable and realistic to the reader. She wasn't always strong and doesn't always remain it throughout, and we were introduced to her tragic backstory to how she became who she is.There are scenes when Phoenix's violent and animalistic nature comes into play and we can see that she is more than capable of standing up for herself, but without anyone to be there for her those six years after her parents died, she willingly gives herself to signs of compassion and want for her. This is why I think the relationship between her and Triven worked so well. Although at times it felt slightly rushed for the length of the book, when you learn about who Phoenix truly is and her character you realise that perhaps the romantic elements aren't as farfetched and rushed into as you once though. Triven's character in my opinion was sarcastic, flirtatious, had a strong moral sense of honour and showed that rebellious attitude towards family that we also see from Four from the Divergent series. Now that is a very good comparison to be making! Mouse's character was adorable, I loved her little attempts at sign language and I really appreciated Jennifer's reluctancy to have Mouse's character speak. It showed just how much of an impact this world has on this little girl, even if we haven't fully been made aware of how drastic and misplaced the thought of utopia in The Sanctuary truly is. I would have liked to have seen perhaps some flashbacks on Phoenix's part to get a better insight to what she remembers of her parents before they died, but perhaps we'll gain this in the sequel 'New World: Ashes' because I think this would be really beneficial to Phoenix's character development and for the story. There is something that makes me think that Phoenix is perhaps more than just who Astrid is letting her on to be, there is a secret being hidden and I am excited to see if my thoughts are justified in the sequel.
Overall I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It had an exhilarating plot with fully fleshed out, realistic characters in a dystopian setting one can only fully imagine the horrors of in their head. I am so glad that Jennifer Wilson took the opportunity to self publish this novel and series because I think it's about time we had more praise and created greater awareness for the self-publishing industry. I will be excited to read the sequel to this book, New World: Ashes which released July 10th 2015, so not too long to wait. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of a good dystopian novel or who just likes characters with a kick ass demeanour but secretly hide more to themselves than they're willing to let on. I give New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson a 4 out of 5 stars on my classification scale - I am thrilled to see where she takes us next. If you haven't already, go and check out Jennifer's book trailer for New World: Rising because I think it's fantastic.