by Kevin McDermott (Author)
Valentina has grown up in the Green Zone, an area of the country where the privileged few live and your position in society is determined by how much money you have. After meeting new arrivals, Pippa and Damian, Valentina’s world is turned upside-down when she’s forced to leave the comfort of the Green Zone and see the world outside as it really is.
The story is dystopian science fiction by numbers. Valentina’s journey follows the tropes of the genre and, as a result, much of what happens is predictable and there is very little by way of surprise as the narrative progresses. There’s a strange mix of characters that vary between those that are well developed (the three batty ladies living in a former stately home on the edge of the Green Zone) and those that never develop beyond being ciphers (the refugee Joshua and Valentina’s brother John).
What saves the story, however, is the character of Valentina herself. Privileged and sheltered but with a cynical and off-beat attitude, her never-less-than-compelling voice drives the story forward, making a conventional tale very readable and entertaining all the way through to the abrupt and seemingly rushed final chapter.
Valentina isn’t a bad novel; it just lacks that spark of originality that could have transformed it from being a conventional science fiction story into something really special.
This review was published online in