THE STRANDED, by Sarah Daniels, Sourcebooks Fire, Jan. 3, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
A group of refugees are stranded on a cruise ship in Sarah Daniels’ dystopian YA novel, The Stranded.
Welcome to the Arcadia.
Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States ― a leftover piece of a fractured USA.
For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.
Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.
When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever… —Synopsis provided by Sourcebooks Fire
The Stranded is a plot-driven dystopian novel that moves quickly despite the main characters never being fully realized.
The story is told through three alternating points of view: medic trainee Esther, rebel Nik, and head of security Hadley. And though the story is told by this trio, they feel more like helpers to the plot rather than the characters driving it forward.
That’s not to say that The Stranded is bad.
People being forced to stay on a cruise ship because of a virus is something we witnessed during the Covid pandemic, and the depths to which author Sarah Daniels explores this aspect feel very real. Her descriptions of the boat and daily life on it are also excellent.
It’s clear from the ending that there’s at least a sequel to The Stranded in the works. I’m hopeful that in it, Daniels will fully realize her characters’ potential. The Stranded is not the best dystopian novel I’ve read, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. I recommend checking it out from the library prior to purchase.
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