“This is what the truth is. Second Salvations murdered my parents, and I’m running away.”
A single post over unregulated Internet channels. A sleeping society awakens to a chase, broadcast live on television screens all across the New United States of America...
Rebecca and Daniel have never met. A fifteen-year-old preacher’s kid and a sixteen-year-old atheist outcast, they appear to have little in common. And yet they have both attracted the attention of a recruiter for Angel Island, where bad kids go to be remade—or destroyed.
Agents of the all-powerful New America Unity Church will stop at nothing to get them. They’re building an army, a modern children’s crusade, in which Rebecca and Daniel may be just the kind of future leaders they need.
If not, they might be just the kind of sacrifice necessary to keep the rest of the faithless in line.
16+ due to violence and adult situations
Rebecca had known Miss Marcy was there the whole time. She was careful not to betray that knowledge by looking at her, though, even as she hit the bottom of the stairs and ran straight in her direction. She had anticipated a host of enemies lying in wait for her, in fact, and counted herself lucky when she could only make out one. The bright white shirt and the camera-flash light of the videophone identified her easily.
The devil you know, she thought, steeling herself, telling herself it could only be worse, going the other way. God only knew how many people waited to spring on her around back. She didn’t think the cop could be there, not so quickly, but there was no way to be certain.
She kept running, full tilt, as though making for the woods. But she was ready all the while, and when Miss Marcy came for her—thinking to roll her in one quick sucker-tackle, no doubt—Rebecca lowered her head, let out a cry, and drove herself right into Miss Marcy’s stomach.
They went to the ground together, but Miss Marcy had already lost. Nary a sound—other than sucking breath—escaped her lips as Rebecca pinned her arms with her knees and punched her in the face. Once, twice, three times…
Then, scooting back over her middle as Miss Marcy’s hands flew up to protect her face, Rebecca punched her twice more, this time in the sternum—straight punches, not uppercuts, leading with her two prominent knuckles, just as she’d been taught.
And finally she stood, turning a full circle, suddenly panicking again. Surely there’d be an army coming for her by now. But there wasn’t. Not yet.
Miss Marcy just lay there, curled into a ball, gasping.
She saw the videophone Miss Marcy had propped up on the windowsill. I don’t have time for this, she thought, going to it anyway.
She saw her own face in the screen as she drew near, growing bigger and bigger as she picked it up. It was taking live video of her and feeding it to Miss Marcy’s personal Omni page. The Views line at the bottom indicated there were currently six people watching.
“My name is Rebecca Riggs,” she said to the screen, and suddenly found tears were threatening again. It annoyed her because she was not a crier as a general rule. She fought them down. “This is what the truth is: Second Salvations murdered my parents, and I’m running away.”
She couldn’t know, as she tossed the phone aside and started running again, how famous those words would ultimately become. It wasn’t her name at first—nor her accusation, nor even her admission of deliberate flight—that would catch the attention of so many people. But the video, still in record mode, was already being shared by all six of the anonymous watchers on Miss Marcy’s Omniscience page.
By the time Rebecca made it to the scooter between the road and the edge of the woods, one of the watchers thought to add the caption: This Is What the Truth Is.
By sunrise, that video would go viral.
Posted by Kevin on 20th Mar 2017
I see that others have adequately summarized the premise of this fantastic book, so I won’t repeat that. This is a great read for adults and teens alike. Like so many women, the heroine, Rebecca, underestimates her own fortitude. As the story unfolds, she learns to reach deep into herself to survive and eventually begin to thrive in her new situation. I look forward to seeing her continue to learn about inner and outer strength in the sequel. Daniel, the young male hero, provides a nice foil to Rebecca. Where she lived her previous life with strong Christian faith and ritual, he was raised to doubt and question everything, and knows nothing of the trappings of religion. They will surely bring both of their life views to the fight as this story goes forward, and I truly can’t wait to see how their relationship develops in this regard.
This will one day make a fantastic movie series! I will be first in line to see it!
Posted by Amy Wilson on 20th Mar 2017
I'm a fan of speculative fiction, so I expected to enjoy this book -- but great storylines can't shine without excellent writing. Damanda delivers both a fascinating story and worthy wordcraft in this dystopian Young Adult novel. In fact, this book far exceeded my expectations, and it still has me thinking. The Salvation State reminded me in many ways of Margaret Atwood's book, The Handmaid's Tale. I don't mean that Damanda's work is derivative at all -- it's quite original -- but it does explore some of the same ideas. Atwood examined ways in which a theocratic Christian nation could affect the status and power of gender roles in society, and Damanda's book explores how relationships between parents and children could be disrupted by an overbearing religious government. These ideas are especially powerful in the context of teens and young adults, given the overriding developmental task of this age group (particularly in contemporary American culture) to balance the forming of a unique sense of self with the demands of both peer and societal conformity. The Salvation State offers so many serious ideas to consider and discuss in a book group or classroom -- I look forward to discussing it with my teens.
Posted by Laura Murray on 20th Mar 2017
The Salvation State by Marcus Damanda was one heck of a roller coaster ride. It has everything one loves in a dystopian novel, but so much more.
The world that he built was unlike anything I had ever read before. Usually in dystopian novels, there was some disaster or virus that caused the creation of the new world. In The Salvation State it is humanity and religion that cause a new, evil world to emerge.
Being a person that does not believe in organized religion, I found myself angry during certain parts of the book for good reason, the world that the book takes place in, is corrupt and frustrating. I felt so bad for the characters that had to live in this world and I was eager to cheer their triumphs every step of the way.
This book follows a young girl named Rebecca who is thrust into a world of crazy simply because she skipped school. This character was very easy for me to relate to, her snarkiness and her good girl appeal reminding me a lot of myself, which is why I very much enjoyed following her on her journey.
I highly recommend this book to all who enjoy YA lit or who enjoy a good dystopian novel. This book has a little bit of everything and it is very well written.
The only thing I did not like about this book was the ending, it does end on a cliffhanger which leaves you begging for MORE!
I give The Salvation State a 10 out of 10!
Posted by Sasha on 20th Mar 2017
If you like Dystopian, I recommend this. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns into a major movie.
I'm a fan of Damanda's understated, sinister writing style. There's no hyperbole or drama - he just writes what's happens. And what happens is extraordinary.
Something has gone wrong in the world and parts of America are now governed by the Salvation State, an ultra-devout, uber-conservative set of rules for living in which indviduality is maligned as a threat. Rebecca is a reverend's daughter, smart, sporty and a little too savvy. She sees through the bull***t and won't be convinced by the lies. However, all she wants is that little bit of freedom we all crave. Skipping out of school. Meeting up with the occasional boy. Experimenting with a first kiss. This is what lands her in trouble - bigger trouble than she ever imagined.
On the other hand, Daniel has done it tough. He's been suffering on the outskirts of society, finally ready to try and fit in. He needs to protect his mom and himself.
It's too late. Both of them have achieved extraordinary results on their Solomon Tests and they've been noticed by Ruth and Matthew Black.
The characters in this book have such power - you find yourself identifying with all of them in some way, no matter how well-meaning or evil. Everyone is flawed. Everyone is real. I found myself sympathising with even the most awful of characters. However, you will fall in love with Rebecca, I guarantee it. A heroine who is smart, tough and talks back. She's fantastic.
This is a mind-blowing read that grabs you in the first scene and takes you on a tense journey through a range of people's perspectives. I am dying to know what happens to Rebecca and Daniel in future. Book 2, please!
Posted by Barbara Posey on 20th Mar 2017
Marcus Damanda is a powerful writer who will gather you in and give you an incredible ride. From the merciless opening scene, you are plunged into a landscape of treachery and corruption hiding under a facade of holiness. It's an America that will make you weep, one that is disturbingly too possible to dismiss as fiction. Courage, integrity, faith -- will only get you killed. Rebecca, a preacher's daughter, has lived a life of faith and obedience, but finds herself betrayed and isolated, branded a criminal and given to the state. Daniel, son of a pair of outcasts, lands on the same island. Here are the Forgotten, children to be bent and twisted to the ends of a faceless power, or to be destroyed. The Salvation State is fast-paced and gripping, and the characters reach into your heart. Don't miss it!