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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Zenith by B. D. Sweeney is a speculative dystopian novel set in the distant future, where the world's environment has long collapsed and only one habitable place remains: Zenith. In order to preserve the precious resources of a place that must sustain life independently, there is a means of population control. One million is the magic number, and one million is all that Zenith permits. The old adage is that for a ruler to be successful they must lead by example, and when the Princess and Queen Regent Burdette takes the helm from her ailing father, she bucks centuries of the hereditary monarchy her family has held to do exactly that. Burdette will not have children. What she will have is the continuity of Zenith, at all costs. And the costs are high when the dangers posed to the last known refuge are growing both within Zenith and from a new danger ready to strike from beyond her walls.
Burdette is an imperfect young woman and that is what makes her relatable in B. D. Sweeney's novel, Zenith. This is a plot-centric novel but it does carry with it a solid character arc and a leader who is prone to oversight and mistakes. There is intent and there is impact, and when you are in the last bastion of humanity, the impact is what matters. The world-building of Zenith is exceptionally well done and even though the novel takes a hot second to get into, once the stone starts rolling down the hill it is easy to find oneself fully immersed. Burdette reminds me a little of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games, until about three-quarters of a way through the novel when she gives a skin-prickling motivational speech that has all of the optimism of hope and glory that William Wallace shouts out in Braveheart. I love that Burdette is as comfortable in regalia as she is in a breastplate and white fatigues. Overall, this is a strong piece of fiction with a lot going for it and I have no doubt other readers will feel the same way. Very highly recommended.