Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sophia Rose Reviews: Ascendant by Richard Denoncourt

Once again I turn the blog over to the capable hands of Sophia Rose. Today she's reviewing 

Ascendant by Richard Denoncourt a genre she's become a huge fan of lately, sci-fi, this one has a little dystopian and apocalyptic too.
Ascendant by Richard Denoncourt
#1-4 Ascendant
Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher:  Self-Published
Published:  7.7.13
ISBN-10: 1489535160
Pages:  672
Format:  Trade Paperback
Source:  GoodReads Giveaway
Sellers: Amazon (out of print at the moment) 

ADD TO: GoodReads 

GoodReads Blurb:
Decades after a devastating nuclear war ravages the country, America has split into two nations, and every 1 out of 100 citizens is born with some form of telepathy. Many of these poor souls become slaves, while others live in the shadows, waiting for a revolution of the mind that has been brewing for years.

17-year-old Michael Cairne doesn't remember being smuggled out of a government research facility by his mother when he was just a baby. He has no idea that she committed suicide that same night to protect him, or that the military has been searching for him for the past two decades.

All he knows is that growing up in the People's Republic of America sucks. He wishes he could study, but without a birth certificate to get into a state school, he can look forward to a lifetime of washing dishes at his foster parents' restaurant instead. His only escape from his humdrum existence is building and selling illegal radios on the black market, which could get him a life sentence in one of the nation's dreaded labor camps.

But everything is about to change.

After a dangerous encounter he only barely survives, Michael discovers that he is telepathic, making him the unfortunate new member of a hunted and enslaved minority. When he becomes targeted by the nation's brutal police force, the only man who can save him is Louis Blake, a wanted terrorist and former military leader who claims to have known - and loved - Michael's mother many years ago.

A highly skilled telepath who once trained soldiers to become ghosts, Blake offers Michael the chance of a lifetime. He will teach him how to sharpen his telepathy into a weapon, to be used against the men who killed his mother and foster family. In exchange, Michael has to follow Blake to a former ghost town hidden in the mountains of what used to be Colorado, and make a serious attempt to blend in while Blake figures out a plan for their future.

Also, Michael must never, ever use his telepathy - except under strict supervision in a training environment. Michael agrees. How hard could it be to keep his thoughts to himself?

The task turns out to be extraordinarily difficult, as Michael clashes head on with a new host of enemies, including a teenage biker gang, the town's power-hungry mayor, a telepathic assassin sent by the president of the People's Republic himself, and a disturbed woman named Charlotte, whose beautiful younger sister might just be the love of Michael's life.

...as well as the spark that will ignite a war between those who wish to free the mind, and those who wish to enslave it.

Sophia Rose's Review:

Recently, I've been pulling down books from my shelf that have sat there for oodles of time.  I came across this one and it took my fancy again (no, not for the cover which is actually been changed at some point after I got the book).  I started reading and got a bit of surprise.  Not necessarily an unwelcome one, but I had to start making adjustments quickly.  I had it in my head that this was sci-fi set here on earth like government experimentation and conspiracies.  Ha!  No, this was a little of that, but mostly, it was as dystopian as it gets.

So, yes, Ascendant is a four part story about a psychically gifted young man, Michael Cairne, who grows up and lives against the backdrop of a future dystopian world that is a tight communist dictator state.  He is forcefully pushed out of a dreary and hopeless, yet fairly safe (for this story) situation by a series of tragic events.  He was pretty much a ticking time bomb because people who knew the truth about him hid his dangerous abilities from even him and he discovers he can destroy other minds- by the group- without much effort.  In an almost a 'too little too late' way, he is spirited out past the government boundaries into a new world of rebels and lawlessness, and a darker, grittier personal path to revolution and freedom.

Ascendant was a book I was reluctant to pick up after my early excitement and the reason is slightly shameful.  I set it aside originally when I first got it because it is one huginormous tome.  It was 630 pages.  My early enthusiasm waned and I forgot about the book.  I soon learned that the size and page number is deceptive.  Because of the page layout (larger font and spacing), it ended up being not much longer than a novel despite being four- novella length parts (Origin, Children of Ment, People's Republic, and Uprising).  It had its slower moments and times that I skimmed.  More on that in a moment, but it mostly read quickly.

I was hooked in with the exciting and tragic prologue when Michael's mom sacrifices everything to get him to safety and a chance at a normal life.  Michael is a baby at the time.  Origin picks up 17 years later and begins with Michael's story.  It was opening pages and the foreshadowing and ominous tones had me preparing for the worst- Michael was not going to get a sunshine and unicorns life anytime soon.  And, yep, there it was.  Things got ugly quickly.

From there, it is suspenseful and exciting and introduces a good strong plot, but there were several moments when I got frustrated and the feeling I had in the beginning soon waned.  Part of it was that if an evil could be done by other humans, it was done and also that I felt the plot losing something as it went.  I found the 'romance' too much drama on top of some other over the top conflict drama.  I hated the part about the two sisters who both wanted Michael which felt like a YA love triangle to me.  He chose the gentle one (hello, her sister was awful) and the sister exacted quite the revenge that had big repercussions.  I ended up crying at one point and got socked with several brutal moments.  This is definitely not the story for the faint of heart or folks looking for a light weight dystopian with a good dose of feel good to make the bad worth wading through.  Still, I had to see it through because a struggle against a bad regime is something I enjoy reading about though, again, the ending isn't all wrapped up pretty with a bow- it's what one can expect after all that came before it.

All in all, I'm glad I read it and I think dystopian fans who like darker and grittier stuff will like that aspect of it.  I might not have liked everything about this story and Michael definitely had his vulnerabilities and flaws, but I did like him as the protagonist and was rooting for him through it all.  There were some fierce scenes and engaging, dramatic or action-packed moments that were fantastic.  Things were left so that there could be more to the story (looking at you, William) and I'll have to check and see if there is more and also to see what else the author has written.

Author’s Bio
Richard Denoncourt is the author of supernatural thrillers, epic fantasy, sci-fi fiction. He studied literature and political philosophy at Colgate University and received an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School in New York City. He currently lives near Boston.

Website:  Twitter:  

Sophia’s Bio:
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.
Sophia’s Social Media Links:
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