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Reviewed by Aimee Carol Dixon for Readers' Favorite
Lia doesn’t fit into her world below ground, where the rules are absolute and favor men over women, adults over children, and government officials overall. Complying is not in her nature, though stories of a girl who let her curiosity overpower her judgment keep Lia wary enough to maintain a façade. She finds solace with her two friends, Darcy and Mac, and holds onto her sanity by frequently slipping away to a room deep in the tunnels of Terra Convex. There, through thick panes of glass, is a window to the world above. Lia drinks in the ever-changing view and dreams of life outside the so-called haven that is Terra Convex. And then, out of the blue, everything changes. Lia sees something that shouldn’t exist on the other side of the glass. What follows sweeps Lia and everyone she loves down a treacherous path where true colors are revealed and secrets years in the making begin to unfold. If she has any hope of making it out alive, Lia must choose who she trusts and measure the risks carefully, because the war she’s starting will not be bloodless for long. Secrets Above by mother-daughter duo Amy M. Ward and Olivia Cayenne is a gut-wrenching, no holds barred look into an all too possible dystopian future.
Lead character Amelia “Lia” Abner is a compelling individual in her own right. Full of stubborn curiosity and carrying a fire for justice inside her soul, she is simultaneously achingly naïve and a tad arrogant. She is young and it shows, mostly in small nuanced ways that prove Ward and Cayenne spent considerable effort to let her be. Often in young adult novels, a young man or young woman is allowed to be their age only in the opening pages, after which they are thrust into a quasi-adulthood that usually works out in the end but that feels rushed or embittering. Lia, however, carries her youth with her through Secrets Above, even as circumstances arise that rob her of what little peace she clings to. She has good intentions, but she is also prone to unintentional self-centered thinking. This makes her more realistic and, as Secrets Above is a first-person novel, makes her personal growth more easily discernible, something that is particularly crucial with the structure and plot Ward and Cayenne have crafted.