The Ninety-Two

Core Town True

Fiction - Dystopia
573 Pages
Reviewed on 07/24/2020
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

Author Biography

M.B. Swerdlow is the author of the novel The Ninety-Two: Core Town True, the first in the series. He studied communication at Boston University and writing at Emerson College in Boston, and has written two screenplays. He has over 30 years of business experience in marketing and communications. The premise for this dystopian work started for him in chemistry class in high school, where he studied the Periodic Table of the Elements and wondered what sort of powers it could unlock. He tucked the idea away for years, but it came back in a big way once he found himself on the wrong side of a corporate reorganization. He started considering, what if the government held annual performance reviews of all its citizens ... what would that be like? Would there be abuses of power? And how could it be stopped? That's when he started writing this dystopian epic, a literary escape for those who want to lose themselves in a new world. He lives with his family in Rhode Island and is currently at work on his next novel, To the Dome.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite

It's the celebrated Annual Day, and the careers of the class-fellows will be chosen by the deans, with little consideration for personal interests and affinities. Three master class-fellows have been gifted with unique elemental abilities that could be instrumental in overthrowing the totalitarian government of Core Town. Michael is the annoying prankster with a blazing temper. Elizabeth is a natural swimmer with a bad family reputation. And Samantha is the Classmaster, plant lover, and "the very model of Registrar values." In Core Town, freedom is restricted; speech, clothing, and more are monitored; and offenders are brutally assaulted and displayed as a warning to others. Do the three teenagers have what it takes to join the revolution and help in creating a more humane environment? The first novel by M.B. Swerdlow, The Ninety-Two: Core Town True, of this series is amazingly detailed, immersive, and electrifying.

Highly recommended for a literary escape! I had hours of satisfying entertainment. With intricate details about unique battle weapons, architecture, religion, sports, careers, rules, and much more, the worldbuilding in Core Town True is simply ingenious. Plus, M.B. Swerdlow is an expert wordsmith. I'm talking mind-blowing metaphors and hilarious, infectious conversations. It was a lot of fun, even as it progresses gradually. The descriptions are quite lifelike as I could feel the connections and tensions between the characters. Though the main protagonists are between the ages of sixteen and seventeen, The Ninety-Two is also suitable for an older audience. I am excited that it's a series because I already love the characters and can't wait to continue reading about them in the next book. Fantastic work!

K.C. Finn

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True is a work of fiction in the dystopian adventure and dramatic fiction sub-genres, and was penned by author M. B. Swerdlow. This is a novel with a realistic feel which also interlaces science fiction and fantasy concepts as we enter a futuristic world with an incredibly harsh regime for its young people. Michael, Elizabeth, and Samantha are class-fellows at Core Town Academy, but this does not mean that they are likely to achieve their dreams. So when a secret rebellious group offers them recruitment, so begins an adventure filled with defiance, spirit, and the true discovery of who they are meant to be.

Author M. B. Swerdlow has crafted an immersive coming of age tale that mature young adult and adult audiences alike will delight in reading and rebelling along with it. One of the things which impressed me most, and indeed is vital in any successful dystopian novel, was the concept and construction of the world. I understood the villainous motivations of the oppressive Empire, and the more that we dig into their system with our protagonists, the more logic there is in the foundations of the plot. This means that the author is able to achieve a truly high stakes dramatic adventure, with realistic and relatable characters who are desperate to break free from their proposed shackles. Overall, I would highly recommend The Ninety-Two: Core Town True for readers seeking a fascinating genre mix that offers plenty of powerful surprises but keeps its action grounded in real emotion.

Jose Cornelio

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True by M.B. Swerdlow is a dystopian tale with a great appeal to fans of the genre, a story that explores the game of power and survival against a devastating backdrop and a ruthless, inhuman regime. During the annual day, senior class fellows at the Core Town Academy wait anxiously for their turn to be reviewed at the Chamber of Consequence. They are under an oppressive regime where there are no freedoms or liberties and where a few determine the fate of everyone. While a select few have the luck to pursue their dreams, others are headed for a grim destiny and they can’t do anything about it or they will be treated as rebellious by the regime. But three master class fellows choose a way out: they are runner Michael Smolder, boatwoman Elizabeth Esprit, and Samantha Florett. They are being recruited into a shadowy organization that is determined to bring down the oppressive regime. But do they have what it takes to survive and beat the ruthless masters?

M.B. Swerdlow’s novel features a fascinating setting where oppression is the order of the day and where class distinction defines society. The author explores the human thirst for power and injustice with unusual skill. The characters are multidimensional, elaborately developed, and compelling. But what pulled me in is the strength of the conflict and how it moves the story forward. The characters are complex and within each of them is an intricate world to navigate; they carry a lot of pain and frustration within, and the author uses these to build motivation, especially in Samantha, Elizabeth, and Michael. The Ninety-Two: Core Town True is a fast-paced, beautifully written, and well-balanced story.

Christian Sia

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True by M.B. Swerdlow is gripping science fiction. In a dystopian Empire, class fellows at the Core Town Academy live the Annual Day with uncertainty because each senior class fellow has to be reviewed, mercilessly, and what their future will be like is decided in the Chamber of Consequences. Core Town Academy epitomizes the oppressive regime where class fellows know no freedom and are constrained to follow draconian rules. Anyone caught out of line can find themselves looking down the barrel of a Legion-issued firearm. Class fellows are controlled to the extent that they are compelled to use an oppressively formal language in the land and even get thrashed for using contractions. But three master class fellows are fed up with the system and when the opportunity to join a secret organization presents itself, Michael, Elizabeth, and Samantha seize it. With access to unimaginable powers and abilities, will they follow the path of restoring harmony to Core Town or remain its oppressed servants?

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True is a well-plotted and beautifully-written story with a setting that is fascinating. It doesn’t take long for readers to know what kind of system runs Core Town and that Core Town Academy is a place they really don’t want to be, thanks to the author’s imagination and the vividness with which the elements of the setting and the way of life are described. The sense of fear in the characters is very strong and the author does an impeccable job in building suspense. The conflict is built around a powerful premise: few people having the power to decide how everyone else should live their adult life. This creates uncertainty in the characters and fear, and when three people choose a different path, the reader wants to see if they can succeed. The Ninety-Two: Core Town True is emotionally rich and the story features characters that readers will remember. Images from the setting, as well as the emotionally rich scenes written in a style that is cinematic, augment the enjoyable reading experience. A gorgeous read, indeed.

Gobi Jane

Written in highly descriptive prose and with great entertainment potential for fans of dystopian settings, The Ninety-Two: Core Town True by M.B. Swerdlow introduces readers to the strange, overbearing, and unjust politics of Core Town Academy, the very symbol of the finesse of society. In the Chamber of Consequence, class-fellows’ fates are determined, and no one stepping into the chamber can tell where they will fall, which creates a sense of fear and unease as the Annual Day arrives. A class-fellow is blessed if the notorious deans choose to allow him or her to proceed to the University. Most are destined for the Garrison, and many don’t have the freedom to choose what to do with their lives. But three people are about to change this when they are contacted by a secret and powerful organization: they are Michael, Elizabeth, and Samantha. Can they break the stringent rules of Core Town and become the hope for the freedom of many, and can they master the power and abilities that are being invested in them?

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True is a spellbinding book with a unique, imaginary setting. I loved the way the author portrays the world of “academia” in this book and the school where the elites of the city are groomed, but it is also a symbol, not only of power but of oppression. The rules drill down to the details of how the class-fellows should speak, and the consequences of breaking those rules are severe and ridiculous, and at times, life-threatening. While this is a novel with an imaginary setting and a world that is purely made up, it can be read as an allegory of the capitalist system where the destinies of many are controlled by very few rich people. I enjoyed the way the headmaster and the deans are developed and the role they play in the story, representing what is irksome and painful and what stands between most characters and their dreams. The conflict in M.B. Swerdlow’s book is mostly social and readers will be fascinated by how each character responds to the crisis. The story is balanced, featuring strong prose, a great plot, and characters that stay with readers.

Eduardo Aduna

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True by M.B. Swerdlow follows the adventures of three teens struggling to thrive in a dystopian, oppressive world. Core Town is the only home Michael, Elizabeth, and Samantha have ever known. But it is far from perfect. Discipline is ruthlessly enforced and every malfeasance is met with a heavy hand. All three must learn to navigate the future chosen for them while searching for answers about their past, all while coming to terms with a mysterious power growing within them.

One would be hard-pressed to find a more meticulously created world. Core Town is every teenager’s worst nightmare - a town filled with restrictive rules run by adults who have let their bitterness spill over to actual malice. Each scene is a vivid reminder that the culture of oppression runs deep, and touches every facet of daily life in Core Town. M.B. Swerdlow has a flair for the descriptive, and though this may at times come at the expense of pace and flow, his writing paints a vivid picture of a world obsessed with rules. All three main characters are incredibly well fleshed out. Each offers a unique lens to see their world, shaped by their own experiences, memories, thoughts, and passions. Although there are many authors that can write good main characters, M.B. Swerdlow’s attention to detail extends to his secondary characters as well. The Ninety-Two: Core Town True is a solid first novel that lays a strong foundation for a world that, in the author's own words, is still just the tip of the frostberg.

Rabia Tanveer

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True by M.B. Swerdlow is a dystopian story where the future of young hopefuls is tested beyond their imagination. Living under oppression and overcoming the Empire that dogs every step of its citizens is not easy. On the brink of adulthood, our three protagonists are given the offer to change the world. Elizabeth, Michael, and Samantha were minding their own business when they were visited by people who promised them a better future and power beyond their imagination. They have to make a decision to accept the proposition and start on a treacherous journey or stay back and await a future that is bound to be filled with desperation. Their destinies are set but they have the option to change it. Will they choose to change their destiny? Or will they give in to the Empire?

The Ninety-Two opens with action and suspense that make the reader want more. Our three protagonists are given ample page space to grow, develop, and make the choices that define their future. The dynamics of Core Town are explained well and there is a map at the beginning of the novel. All the chapters bring something new to the story, add action, and make sure the reader is invested. Out of all three protagonists, I like Elizabeth the most. She is feisty, opinionated yet she doesn’t let her opinions cloud her judgment. Samantha and Michael are also good, but they have a long way to go. I have high hopes for Michael. The world-building is intricate, very detailed, and descriptive enough not to overwhelm the reader with information overload. I cannot wait for the next novel in the series, especially after this ending.

Ruffina Oserio

The Ninety-Two: Core Town True by M.B. Swerdlow is an engaging story with a dystopian setting where the destiny of many rests in the hands of a few. Classfellows at Core Town Academy are not only oppressed, they are plunged into a world filled with uncertainty, submitted to draconian laws. The punishment for breaking the rules is unimaginable. It is the Annual Day and as they file into the Chamber of Consequences, they are afraid of the verdict from the deans that will decide their future. Contacted by a secret organization, Michael, Elizabeth, and Samantha find a way out from the grip of the Empire. There is a lot to discover as the three navigate their new choices, but can they challenge the facts about Core Town and forge their destinies?

The world featured in this book is vivid and unique, a town with its own rules, some of which are absurd, especially the speech laws. It is interesting that characters watch the way they speak and can’t use contractions. What is most absurd is the kind of treatment meted out to those who break the absurd laws. The author writes fear into the characters and readers can feel it; the pathos is strong. The reader is introduced to a society where the few control the majority and where destinies are decided by the sheer whims of the dean and the headmaster. It is in such a world that three heroes are forged. The themes of freedom and oppression, education, and the manipulation of power are diligently explored. The Ninety-Two: Core Town True is cunningly plotted; it is fast-paced and written in prose that is descriptive. M.B. Swerdlow creates characters that readers will enjoy and a system that had me thinking about how those in power control the lives of ordinary men. It is highly imaginative and littered with terrific descriptions.