In the Minuses

Fiction - Dystopia
342 Pages
Reviewed on 03/29/2022
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Author Biography

In The Minuses
When Anneliese and I decided to write “In the Minuses”, we knew well the thematic concepts we would capture, everything about where the plot would take us, into an exploration of heart and spirit in a dystopian world that parallels closely our world of today. What we didn’t know was how to write it … as a prose novel or as a verse novel. Logic would tell us that many don’t want to read poetry, that writing a verse novel will lead to criticism from fiction writers and poets alike, so we tried to write it in acceptable prose form. We found that even with the same poetic imagery and language, the verse novel form captured the heart and soul of the story so much better. We hope you agree. – Pernoste

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

In the Minuses is a work of fiction in the creative, science fiction, and dystopian subgenres. It is intended for the general reading audience and was penned by author team JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl. A unique presentation of a novel, written partly in structured verse and the remainder in free verse/poetic prose, the story takes place in a hopeless dystopian future. The central character, Angie, surrounds herself with the ghosts of the past and her artforms to hide her pain, until her calling as a healer arrives. Her new journey to push past this pain and discover the secrets of the city holds up a mirror to societal problems in our own world today.

Author duo JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl have crafted a unique perspective in this truly haunting novel that discusses the nature of faith, science, and religious belief during a time when our world is most in need of it. These messages are not so explicit in the work as to destroy the storyline, but it becomes clear quite quickly that the work is an emotive character study rather than a hard and fast plot-driven tale. Once you’re into that mindset, Angie’s story becomes all the more emotional, mindful and thrilling, and I often found myself going back and looking again at the wonderful poetry to see how its themes would interweave with the plot. Overall, I would certainly recommend In the Minuses to readers seeking out original, unique dystopian fiction which also has much to say about our beliefs in the world today.

Jamie Michele

In the Minuses by JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl is a dystopian novel set in a creative microcosm called City, with a societal structure of deeply oppressive top-down leadership, and a young woman named Angie who is surviving within it. The book is written in a way that modern readers have really become unaccustomed to reading. This is a novel in verse, a modern approach to the ancient form of verse narrative. This means that the entirety of the novel is written as a poem, and the writing itself is as much a part of the storyline as any character or world that is housed between poetic prose. It is for this reason that the dystopian aspect of the primary protagonist -- a young woman named Angie, and her evolution through a relationship with Daniel, her spiritual growth in a coming of age amongst violence, fear and the miles deep underground realms of City from which the book gets its title -- is more of a literary style storytelling than one that suits any other speculative, cookie-cutter genre.

It is important when a reader picks up a book like In the Minuses that they set aside any preconceived notions on how a book should be written, and focus on how the book is. You must be able to accept a style over substance narrative and the fact that plot lines and character development will take time, and authors JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl deserve that due to the nature of the format they've used to tell Angie's story. All of the science-fiction dystopian hallmarks are present, from world building and violence, to gangs and factions that make survival in a place where only the strongest survived to even be there are present. Some may find the plot on the thin side, but I think to categorize it that way does the novel a disservice. Angie's relationship with Daniel and the shifts she makes in changing how she prioritizes the relationship and her life, especially after a drastic development, is all part of a person's growth. Their journey. I think readers who are willing to try something new will find themselves deeply engrossed in City, and enjoy both the beauty of the writing and the rebirth of strength and womanhood against all odds.

Asher Syed

Penned by JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl, In the Minuses is a dystopian young adult novel in a future that has the remnants of humanity in the clutches of tyrannical rule. Broken down into twenty-one full chapters, Pernoste and Dahl describe City, the last known refuge of humanity, as a city under a dome. Below City’s topside is the Minuses, hundreds of levels of underground City neighborhoods. With a narrative that takes readers through both, we are given the poetic point of view of Angie, a young woman left on her own to steer us through a life that is almost prophetic in a picture of what may be in our own destiny in real life, and all we can learn from a young woman with the courage to change course.

It was hard for me to initially “get” In the Minuses because of how it is written. If I'm being completely transparent, I was intimidated. Anyone can easily say it does not make any sense in order to camouflage the truth of the matter, but the second I got honest with myself and gave it a try, it worked. This is a full-length novel written in a poem and there are parts where a poem within a poem blossoms. That was a pleasant surprise. There is also artistry that is so realistic that offhand it appears as a photo superimposed on art but it isn't. It's all art. The poems are lovely and I got chills down my spine when reading verses like, “Love. It’s everything that’s important, Angie. It is an angel’s whisper on a sudden breeze, a promise, a reason to keep living, as I watch them take my children away...” Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful work by JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl.

Diana Lopez

From the introduction, In the Minuses is fascinating because it includes images that help readers to understand a totally new world. JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl show a dystopian future where robots coexist in the most natural way among people. The protagonist is Angie, a person who initially sees the world with melancholy, pain, but above all with determination. Because, although her reality is catastrophic and the social situation seems hopeless, she never stops trying to overcome the obstacles that life gives her. She finds a way to stand up and continue on the uncertain path to the unknown. Although life gives her many difficult lessons, she knows how to value the most important thing, the camaraderie of the people around her, and that is why she does everything possible to help her loved ones.

I was fascinated by the images; they have a magnificent artistic style that combines light and shadow. In addition, they express the feelings of the characters in a realistic way, especially the key moments of the story, those of greatest pain and joy. Situations stand out more striking with visual aid. That detail on the part of JD Pernoste and Anneliese Dahl is special. I also liked that in other very specific parts of the book, there are small poems that express Angie's perspective. These are words that she uses to free herself from emotions and condense significant moments. These two additional factors to the plot give the story a more human character. In the Minuses is a fantastic dystopian story of adventure and love.

Clarissa Pattern

This is an exceptionally crafted book which explores themes of love, loss, hope and survival. The initially striking thing is the choice to tell the story in a verse form. It is still divided into traditional chapters, but this form gives a sparseness and a uniqueness perfectly suits its story of a dystopian future which is both unfamiliar to our everyday 21st century lives yet also familiar from decades of futuristic visions, (the most notable comparison for me was the totalitarianism of'1984' but this story delves much deeper into science fiction with robots and mysticism with ghosts and angels).

The language conjures beautiful visions of peace, love and forgiveness amongst the brutality of state sanctioned torture and murder, and gangs that roam looking for children to trade and rape. The protagonist, Angie, is believable as she moves through being a young, emotionally scarred woman in love, to the brave saviour of all the people living in fear and poverty. There is an overriding environmental message to protect and value Gaia from human war and destruction, and this book offers the hope that with a courageous spirit this is possible.