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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Erie Energy is the first book in The Ghostlands saga written by C.N. James and Amy Joy. Anastasia misses her boyfriend, Uz. It had been two years since he and his entire family had been traded by Erie Energy to the Sydney Corporation, due to their name values and human worth being so low. When a child is born into Anastasia’s world, the child’s parents purchase (if possible) high value names for the baby, showing that their child will grow into a strong adult, but any character flaws which accumulate during that child’s life will devalue their name and their worth until they are considered nothing more than a burden on society. With Anastasia having been diagnosed with social dysfunction subset chronic introversion (shyness), she is sent to see therapist, Dr. Tobias, who tries to force her out of her shell before her name value drops any lower, which would destroy any chance of Anastasia having a future which would benefit the government.
With a dome-shaped shield covering her homeland to keep the ghosts from entering, Anastasia is afraid to mention to anyone that there are, in fact, many ghosts within the shield whom she sees almost daily. The first time she had noticed them was at Dometrain Station two years earlier, while seeing off Uz and his family. Little did she know at the time that Uz had not been permitted to board the train that day for trading to the Sydney Corporation. Something far more sinister had taken place, and with ghosts appearing at the most inopportune of times, Anastasia attempts to decipher the message that they seem to be so urgently trying to convey. Regardless of her own personal safety, Anastasia sets out to try to solve the mystery of what is really going on, but nothing could ever prepare her for the shocking secret she is about to uncover, leaving the odds of making it back alive very much against her.
I took my time reading Erie Energy, which is an incredible introduction to The Ghostlands series, filled with intrigue and mystery. Set in a very disturbing future, it portrays a world where only those who prove useful in the eyes of society are permitted to exist. Although a person’s name value is meant to be personally motivating to each individual, it instead punishes those who are not seen as perfect, persecuting those who have intellectual, physical or social imperfections which the government does not wish to deal with, and which each person has no personal control over. In history class, the students talk of a great war which eradicated the three different social classes: lower, middle and upper class.
The very thought of such an existence in any future is terrifying. Only egocentric, megalomaniac narcissists seem to remain, with the schooling system forcing those with imperfections to either flourish or vanish. The lead character, although seen as weak due to her shyness, shows an inner strength and bravado she never thought possible, while trying to solve the mystery behind the disappearances, proving that those with inadequacies are not as useless as the government portrays them to be. I very much enjoyed this highly imaginative, dystopian science-fiction novel and will be seeking out other publications by C.N. James and Amy Joy. I recommend The Ghostlands to all those who enjoy paranormal tales of underlying inner strength and uncovering corporate lies in our already fractured society.