ARC Review: Dark Justice: The Last Ward: Book One by Shelley Russell Nolan (Odyssey)

First of all, many thanks to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review! All thoughts on this review are my own.

I had the oppurtunity to read Dark Justice: The Last Ward: Book One by Shelley Russell Nolan, published by Odyssey. This exciting start to a series is a sci-fi read with a twist on the zombie apocalypse genre. Instead of zombies per se, the world is affected by a virus that turns people into “freaks” with a volatile nature. Wardens are supposed to fight the freaks to protect the humans, but when the head warden, Jackson, is turned himself, things get complicated. Meanwhile, Justice is the embodiment of Gaia’s judgement on the earth, which will pass on her 25th birthday. Until then, whoever touches Justice must become her bodyguard, and the next protector happens to be the “freak” Jackson. His drive to kill versus his drive to protect becomes a weird dichotomy between the two, as well as fighting off the coming apocalypse that Justice might bring.

The book’s trigger warnings include: mentions of SA, death, disease, institutionalized oppression.

I really enjoyed this book. I love apocalyptic dystopians and this fit the best genre conventions while turning others on their head with some fresh new takes. The worldbuilding and complicated plot were ambitious but they wove together really well and made both the readers and the characters question who really were the villains of the story: the freaks? the half-breeds? themselves?

I also loved the multifaceted characters–most of them anyway. Justice and Jackson had great chemistry, but the characters that captured my heart were Hannah and Hansen (I do wish their names weren’t so similar!). I loved the banter between those two and would have loved to have more chapters dedicated to their perspective, but that could be what’s coming in the rest of the series.

There was one character I couldn’t stand, however. Miranda. She was extremely unlikable and had no redeemable qualities. She let unrequieted love turn her into a monster and she used it as an excuse to hurt everyone around her or to justify her prejudices. She was pushy and I had no sympathy for her and I think I was supposed to. But I liked the main antagonists in the book better than I liked her.

One logistic that confused me was over the role of the bodyguard. Justice apparently needed a bodyguard until her 25th birthday when judgement would be passed on the world. However, she couldn’t be harmed until the dawn of her birthday so it seemed like having a bodyguard was wholly unnecessary.

And then, there was just a minor thing that bothered me about the writing style. For the most part, the book was enjoyable to read. However, the characters were sometimes called different things like “the construction worker,” “the warden,” etc. It would have been less confusing had their names just been used consistently throughout.

Over all, I really enjoyed this read. I look forward to the rest of the series and urge sci-fi lovers to try this apocalyptic writing out! Four stars!

By myadventure2017

Writer, Reader, Bookstagrammer, Booktoker, Blogger

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