Bob Collopy

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates. Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction. For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen?

Author Bio

  • Critic Score:71/100

    Our Review Ranking:

    A Decent Read


Our Review


The cover accurately portrays the contents of the book - which is not necessarily positive. It has an interesting aesthetic which reflects the work's gritty concept, however it is held back by chaotic design choices. For example, text placement of "The Best Shall Rise" is awkwardly placed which makes reading it properly confusing at first.

Book Blurb:

The blurb accurately lays out the beats that form the first act of the story. It sets up the potential conflicts that the characters will face.

Formatting :

For the most part, the book is formatted well. Sentences, paragraphs, and chapters often flow well into each other. This makes reading the book relatively easy, in comparison to other YA books. However, some problems arise in between a handful of chapters where the logical flow of events is obfuscated. Additionally, at the beginning of the book, the formatting of an important speech is problematic enough to cause reader pause.

Grammar & Spelling:

The book has numerous mispellings and incorrect word choices. Not enough to be blatant and frustrating, but frequent enough to be annoying. More time should have been spent editing the book to erase these errors.

Character Development:

Development barely occurs for the majority of characters. In fact, only the main protagonist Steve even comes close to a conflict-driven change. Even then, by the end, he appears to regress. No other characters have conflict-driven change. They have character revelations, but they ultimately do not overcome their own internal conflicts. This is the major flaw of this book. Even more problematically, characters are supposed to represent specific philosophical stances. Ultimately, when they get into philosophical diatribes, their personalities are lost. In other words, the characters become secondary to the message the author is trying to tell.

Plot & Structure:

The plot is mostly well-formed. However, its execution is problematic. One of the book's conceits is its philosophical nature. However, these philosophical themes are explored mostly on the surface level. None bite down deep into the core conflicts that the story tells. As a result, the book's plot and structure are carried solely by its concept rather than its characters. Another huge problem is this story's addiction to plot twists. There is this absolute need to withhold information until the last minute with the hopes of eliciting a twist reaction. The unfortunate thing is that the 'twists' can be seen a mile off, and they end up falling flat.


Most of the time, the plot flows well, especially after th 1/3rd mark. However, the first act is plagued by an incessantly slow pace. Once it hits act two however, things proceed with a more acceptable rhythym. It takes to the end for the story to finally become a page-turner.

Use of Language:

When the characters are in their element, they do exceedingly well in coming off as unique and interesting. In this case, the use of language excels. However, when they enter into their philosophical diatribes, individuality is lost, and the potential is wasted. Other times, the language is descriptive and gives the right atmosphere in regards to events, actions, and behaviors.


This story is fairly original in its approach to dystopian societies. It uses the imagery of death and rebirth to paint an ash-stricken land where its people best survive in their own "coffins". However, this symbolism doesn't extend much further than that. These themes, which should be central, barely apply to the major characters. As a result, the originality of the setting is somewhat squandered.

Overall Readability:

For the most part, the story is easy to read. This might be due to its targeting for the YA audience, so ideas are simple. Imagery and symbolism are also fairly simple. It would be fair to say that the stories' complexities do not go to great lengths to make its reader truly think, despite its philosophical bent. This can be both positive and negative. It is positive because it allows readers to take in the plot and the action easily, but a negative because it doesn't offer anything of substance to chew on after the story is concluded. There is also a fragmentation of themes which indicate that there is no central theme that ties the book and its characters together. This thematic lack coupled with its addiction for unnecessary twists, makes the book a chaotic and frenetic read at times.

A Note From the Critic:

I like where the story is headed, but it definitely needs work in truly weaving its themes into character conflicts. Philosophy is a great thing to get into, but it doesn't seem that the characters "own" their philosophies. They act more as mouthpieces for those philosophies rather than live through them. 

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