Yesterday, P.J. Hoover visited A Backwards Story to share a fantastic guest post entitled DYSTOPIAN BY ACCIDENT with us. Check it out here!
Love them or hate them, dystopian novels are what’s in. SOLSTICE, while dystopian, is the sort of book that even dystopian haters will enjoy. Because the dystopian setting is just that—the setting, not the focal point. Because it’s also a fantasy novel. Because it’s also a retelling of Persephone and Hades. Because it’s an epic romance. Because there’s something magical about it that doesn’t quite exist in any other dystopian novel. Even if you dislike the genre (or are just sick of it), SOLSTICE is a stand-out that shouldn’t be ignored.
One of the most remarkable aspects of SOLSTICE’s journey to publication is the non-traditional route it took. While sold exclusively as an e-book at a very affordable $2.99 price-point, the novel is NOT self-published. Yes, you read that right. P.J. Hoover has written several traditionally-published novels, including the middle-grade trilogy THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS, which revolves around Atlantis (Yes, Atlantis!!) and will be re-released with new covers in e-book and paperback format later this year or in early 2012. Hoover was the first Andrea Brown Literary Agency author to have a book launch solely as an e-book. If they had waited to traditionally publish, the novel wouldn’t be out until 2013, but it’s right NOW that both dystopian novels and mythology-influenced ones are hot and selling. Hoover has a great two-part interview talking about why SOLSTICE took this route (Part 1, Part 2). Because of the way this book was published, it still went through normal rounds of editing and received a professionally-designed cover, so it’s not riddled with errors the way some straight-to-e-book novels are. In fact, SOLSTICE is one of my Ton Ten Novels so far this year. It’s that good.
I think what draws me into the world of SOLSTICE the most is the fact that all of the characters feel so real, so alive. The romance is gorgeous and at the novel’s conclusion, I just wanted more books. I wasn’t ready to leave Hoover’s world. There have been a lot of books revolving around the Persephone and Hades myth this year, including much-buzzed about teen novels ABANDON by Meg Cabot (reviewed here) and THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter (reviewed here). Both of those novels are the first in a trilogy that will explore the myth upon which they’re based. Some parts are truer to their mythological roots than others. But in both cases, the “Persephone” character was very by the book. She was forced to be with “Hades” against her will. SOLSTICE, on the other hand, offers a new way of looking at the classic myth. What if Persephone hadn’t been kidnapped? What if she’d gone to Hades willingly? What if the couple had been truly in love and there was a reason for her mother Demeter’s murderous rampage whenever her daughter went to the Underworld for half the year? This is the heart of SOLSTICE.
SOLSTICE takes place in a world where global warming has affected our climate to the point that it’s now referred to as the Global Heating Crisis. There is now year-round summer. Night-time is a “cool” 99 degrees (Fahrenheit) and an average day might be 113 degrees. After suffering this past week’s 100-106 degree heat wave, I would HATE living in a world where that’s the norm…at night. I’d melt faster than an ice-cream cone. It’s not until the temperature hits upward of 123 degrees that citizens have anything to worry about. There are designated cooling areas, a special cooling gel that gets sprayed throughout the day. There are also scary heat-bubbles. For example, “A real heat bubble means we could be stuck with deadly temperatures for weeks. The last time one of the pockets of hot air formed, the city was evacuated, and even then, almost a thousand people died. An evacuation is going to be nothing short of a disaster.” (Page 10)
There are special missiles to pop the heat bubbles, but they further damage the atmosphere and can kill. Piper (The novel’s “Persephone”) and her mother are against the use of these missiles, and we really get insight into her mother’s personality. She’s ultra-protective of Piper and doesn’t let her out much; she’s a true representation of Demeter in today’s world. She wants to keep her daughter at her side forever, despite everything, refusing to let her have a life of her own. When Piper starts noticing a boy in her class named Shayne, one she’s sat next to for a year but doesn’t recall previously meeting, her world changes and life as she knows it will never be the same again. Suddenly, she’s the center of a deadly love triangle between immortals, being courted by Fate, and in a world she never believed to exist.
Hoover twists familiar mythology together at a breath-taking pace for a page-turning adventure. Readers never quite know what’s coming next, and there’s always a new surprise in store. The mythology is flawless; I have nothing to nitpick about in that regard. The romance is deep and genuine. Shayne is Hades in a way that other novel retellings are unable to capture. SOLSTICE is officially my favorite version of Persephone and Hades, and one of my favorite mythological-retellings PERIOD. It’s that good. Even if you’re not a fan of e-books and don’t have an e-reader or tablet, this is one worth downloading and reading on your computer or your phone, especially at the $2.99 price point. Solstice is that good. I promise you won’t regret it!
This cover makes you want to take a long drink of water. Look at that blaring sun over poor Piper’s head (though thankfully there’s a summer breeze, since her hair’s flying every which way). Beyond the city, the dirt is hard and cracked, no grass or plants for miles, only more rays of unforgiving sunlight. The font used for the author’s name and book title is simple, yet strong and confident. I like the way there’s a crazy flare around the O in SOLSTICE, too, as though the sun can penetrate even words. I like the atmosphere of the cover and think it’s well-suited for the novel lying within.