Rating: 5 stars out of 5
For ninety years, the Exclusion Zone has been walled off from the rest of the country. The neighborhood—once a hotbed of political revolution—is now crumbling. Poison from the great catastrophe still hangs in the air. It taints every living thing that breathes it in. It causes rages, great bursts of violence that can’t be controlled. And that makes living within the walls incredibly difficult. But the descendants of the catastrophe survive, and the resistance hasn’t died.
As poison master to the Oligarch, Tryg Sant knows a lot of things others shouldn’t. But when he discovers his family’s darkest secret, his brother tries to kill him.
When Tryg’s lover pushes him out of a helicopter and into the Exclusion Zone, Tryg finds himself trapped in a dangerous new world, entirely different from the one he expects. Now he has to learn to survive nearly-feral humans and his own disintegrating mind. Luckily, he’s found an ally in Riot, a potential lover and one of the victims of the Green Death…
I’m familiar with this author through her Faire Folk series, which I loved, btw. But those books did not prepare me for the dark power and narrative fire that I found in Green Death by Madeleine Ribbon, a dystopian novel that is truly formidable and amazing.
Set in a post apocalyptic world, the setting is an broken America, a large part now run by a power conglomeration of families, democracy a faint echo of the past. A foul chemical disaster of catastrophic proportions killed millions and created a sector now known as the Exclusion Zone where a menacing and genetically deadly green fog hovers over the area. Those living within its walls are forever changed and are known as “Greenies”. The whites of their eyes changed to green, their genes modified by the chemicals, as is their behavior and physicality…new strengths and more…for the ones that survive. But also more pain to live with.
Those living outside? Look upon those inside as beasts, things now apart from the human race, unable to control themselves and their baser instincts, Vile animals, less than human certainly. Definitely creatures to be kept apart by the wall that now separates the two areas and groups. And fog.
Madeleine Ribbon has created an incredible story. Her world building is dark, compelling, and given our current state of global affairs and environmental fragility, frightening. We start off the story with Tryg. A young member of the ruling family, he’s a master poisoner and has been for most his life (working with the menagerie of venomous/poisonous creatures and making poisons since he was 8). It’s been his role in his family, not by choice, however, and, trying to make a new path for himself and his family will change everything for him.
Tryg is quite the character as he undergoes tremendous changes over the course of this story. Changes in emotional, mental, and yes, physical state. His entire outlook, his perception is taken, shaken, and remade given the events and his experiences. And it’s through Tryg, that we experience it all as well. We are intimately connected with him through the power of Ribbon’s ability to pull us into this man’s inner turmoil and make it ours. We feel his hopes, shattered dreams, and then watch it start to be reborn once more. And others along with him.
If you are looking for romance, this is probably not the story for you. Love yes, romance no. Without going into too much depth because there’s just so much to this element in the novel, but part of the effect of the “green fog” is that a person’s baser instincts control their actions. First actions upon hearing someone speak or move will not be rational thought. Instead it will be to kill, to rape, to beat, or if unlucky to run….depending upon your triggers. A large percentage obviously don’t make it to adulthood under these conditions. Ribbon has also created layered societies within the Exclusion Zone that I found fascinating. Honestly? My only complaint is that I didn’t wander around enough in this wild wounded sector that the author has created. It’s scary, weird, and addicting. I wanted to know more of the history of what happened and the people that survived there. Especially those that passed the tests. Those tests! Something else so unbelievably haunting and real. No not giving those away.
Anyhow, back to no romance. Within such a world, how could there possibly be any such thing as romance? There can’t and isn’t. But there can be a type of love and hope. And it isn’t who you think it will be. This book has so many shocks and surprises in store for its reader. The choices the author makes from the Oligarch to the rebels, not a narrative wrong turn is made. It’s often dark, frequently violent and scary, but always gripping, never letting the reader go from a story that keeps you glued to each and every word until it’s over.
This book is beautifully written, the characters are fully realized, the entire novel has great imagination, and the world building is incredible. It’s exactly what I want in my stories, delivered 100 percent!
If you love science fiction, if you love stories about dystopian societies Green Death by Madeleine Ribbon is absolutely a book for you. I highly recommend it. I would love to see more in this universe and hope the author is listening.
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde. Great cover. Depicts the poisonous fog that envelopes the sector and the character perfectly.
ebook, 394 pages
Published November 2nd 2018
Edition Language English
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Romance Pairings: Male/Male
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction
Tags: Dystopian/post apocalyptic