(Book received for free for review from Fiction Addiction.)
A year ago, there was one single self-published book I liked and a pile of ones that I hated. This year it seems almost the reverse!
The Narrowing Path is self-published, but it's darned good. One of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time, and nearly error-free in editing. I spotted maybe ten typos or other mistakes total (eight of them in one single short chapter, I think somehow it must have fallen through the editing process somehow; there were basic mistakes like "The sun was bright, so he shut his mind for a moment."). Outside of that one problem chapter, the mistakes were very minor (like a space before a period at the end of a sentence). I think most readers wouldn't even notice them (other than that mind/eye word switch).
But! The story! Wow. Take Hunger Games and make it more serious and more brutal. I'm not at all saying that it's a knock off of that series, but the similarity is there.
Narrowing Path takes place on another planet. That planet has the misfortune of having a very large moon, large enough that it messes up the orbit. Once every six years, the planet moves too close to the sun for people to survive. They've built caves under the ocean which are just barely cool enough to let people survive that two week period, but they're in no way big enough for all humans on the planet to enter.
There are four main families in the country the story takes place in. Men rule the families, have multiple wives, and thus many children. So, in the months before the sun burns everything, they send all teenage boys off to walk the Path.
To survive the Path, the boys (Greens) have to succeed in some way -- in business, in "war" (fighting in an arena), or in leadership of men (their fellow Greens). Problem is, the society is a very strong caste system, and most of the boys live their whole life up to that point in their family's complex. They never deal with the outside world, other families, or the majority of the population (the poor).
A quarter into the book and I was worried. I was loving this world so much, I was concerned that the book would end and we'd never find out what the girls had to do (they don't walk the Path). The poor too, they can't ALL be killed off every six years... But yay, by the end of the book it was all explained! (Which lead to one of the very few things I disliked: Female teens were called "Greenettes". It makes sense, but... ugh. I hated that name.)
So the plot of the book follows one of the boys. Through the couple months before the planet gets broiled, his eyes get opened, he learns the truth of the Path, loses his naivete, and has to figure out how to save not just himself, but others he's picked up along the way. Talk about character growth!
This was one brutal book (and a YA book, no less!). The kids were killing each other, plotting, etc. And the adults (who had all survived the Path in previous 6 year periods) gleefully took advantage of the kids at every turn.
And did I mention only three teens out of all that "generation" (6 year period) would be picked by the adults to be saved? (And each of them could pick one other to come with them, which added interest to the 'leadership' branch of the Path -- imagine a kid having six defenders, but they all know only one will be picked by him in the end! Assuming the leader is even picked to begin with!)
This was a brutal, dark book, and I loved it. There was a small romantic subplot, and while I usually dislike those, this one seemed really realistic for a 13 year old boy and I actually enjoyed it. I can't wait for the next books in the series! Highly recommended (except for followers of mine who don't like books that put children in danger -- this is very much not for you!).