Title: The Union
Author: T.H. Hernandez
Series: The Union Series, Book 1
Narrator: Alexa Elmy
Publisher: Theresa Hernandez
Released: Nov. 19, 2021
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult
The Union Series #1
Narrated by Alexa Elmy
Theresa Hernandez, November 2021
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook
After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.
Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.
When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving her boyfriend, Bryce, her ideal world is turned upside down. What she learns while in the Ruins shakes her faith in everything she’s ever known, from Bryce to her family and even the Union itself.
Now Evan must choose whether to stay with Cyrus, the sexy, resourceful survivor who believes she’s in the Ruins for a reason, or return to the only life she’s ever known. But when she stumbles upon a dangerous plot that threatens both worlds, her decision could tear her apart.
It’s been a while since I’ve read any post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian books, mainly because I guess you could say I got obsessive. Okay, I greatly overindulged to the point of being saturated 😄. Anyway, this one piqued my interest, especially since I was being offered the audiobook, and I’m SO glad I decided to join the tour.
Evan’s story is downright enthralling, aided by the author’s vivid worldbuilding so that I understood from nearly the beginning what her young life is like and the restrictions placed upon the populace by the powers that be…and some of the consequences of flouting those restrictions. If there was anything I still don’t quite get it’s why the teens go on this sort of walkabout in the first place but that doesn’t really matter.
Shortly after Evan goes on her trip with her best friends Lisa and Colin, later meeting up with her crush, Bryce, Evan is kidnapped by a pair of very unsavory characters and her real adventure begins. Eventually, a new dude, Cyrus, enters the scene along with his family and she begins to learn the truth, the REAL truth, about the Ruins, the supposedly barren area outside of the Union where only the dregs of America’s former society live. This is when Ms. Hernandez’s story truly takes off and I was listening to my audiobook as often and long as I could. And then comes a whopper of a twist, not entirely believable but exciting nonetheless.
Speaking of the audiobook, narrator Alexa Elmy was an excellent choice. Her voice is young enough that she can easily carry off teen girl voices but mature enough that she does a more than decent job with males. I couldn’t always differentiate between characters but, no matter, the prose always let me know who was speaking.
So, thanks to an intriguing story and very engaging characters, I thoroughly enjoyed my return to this subgenre and, while there are occasional flaws, I’m hooked again. Can’t wait to listen to the next book!
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2022.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by T.H. Hernandez. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
T.H. Hernandez is a published author of young adult novels. THE UNION, a post-climate change dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category. SUPERHERO HIGH, an urban scifi teenage romance, set in San Diego, about the offspring of the world’s superheroes. Her first young adult contemporary, co-written with Jennifer DiGiovanni, PROM-WRECKED, is published through Entangled Teen.
She thrives on coffee, peanut butter-flavored anything, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.
When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, you can find her in usually sunny San Diego with her husband, three teenage spawns, a bearded dragon, a couple of cats, and Artemis, a neurotic rescue mutt.
Alexa is a NYC based actor and voice over artist. Born in Connecticut, Alexa has been creating art in all its forms since childhood. She graduated from Fordham University with a BA in Theatre and a concentration in Performance. Alexa previously trained at the London Dramatic Academy (UK), the Stella Adler Studio of Acting (NYC), the New York Film Academy, and the Greenwich Performing Arts Studio.
She is pursuing performance opportunities on the stage, screen, and in audio. Her recent acting credits include the tv show Shattered (Investigation Discovery), Innards (Troma Ent.), Ray Gun Say0nara (New Ohio Theatre) and a voiceover for Google. Alexa’s other talents include playwriting, painting, playing piano, and singing. Her favorite play is Oil by Ella Hickson and her favorite genre is comedy.
She is represented by Innovative Artists and Stefanie Talent & Entertainment.
Q&A with Author T.H. Hernandez
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- I’ve been wanting to turn this series into audiobooks for awhile now, but with the pandemic and my ever-increasing time spent at home instead of out and about, I figured now was the right time. But I had no idea where to begin.
Queue online writing conferences in 2020. I attended one where two narrators broke down the process into easy steps I knew I could complete. They also explained the pros and cons of the various ways to bring my audiobook to life.
Finally, in 2021, I was ready to begin the process. I signed up on ACX and put my book up for audition, but I just wasn’t connecting with any of the samples. Frustrated, I did my own search, putting in search parameters for what I was looking for. I stumbled upon two amazing narrators and asked them if they’d be interested in auditioning. Luckily they did, but the moment I heard Alexa Elmy read in Evan’s voice, I knew I had my narrator!
Alexa has been amazing. She’s an experienced narrator and really held my hand through everything. I firmly believe without her by my side, The Union would still not be an audiobook.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- Actually, no, believe it or not. When I was drafting, I didn’t really think much beyond the eBook and paperback formats. Even though I’m a devoted audiobook listener, this didn’t occur to me, because it seemed so far beyond what I was capable of doing. I’m a writer. I write. Both for my day job and my hobby. I put words on the screen, not in the air. But now that I’ve been through the process, you can be sure, this will be in the back of my mind with every future book I write.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- It’s more like Alexa guided me than the other way around, but I’d say we worked closely together. I had no idea how quickly she’d turn the recordings around. She was always waiting for me to listen and approve the chapters. I had a few things that came up during the process that interfered with me getting things done faster. As a seasoned professional, I only had a handful of pronunciation tips to ask of her. And because this wasn’t her first rodeo, she asked me for some background on my characters. As an avid plotter, I had details ready for her. I think she perfectly captured the essence of all my characters in her narration.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- I conceived of the idea behind The Union series back in 2008, when weather changes were getting to the point that we couldn’t ignore them. But it was some of the driest weather in San Diego history in 2010 that made me take the idea of climate change to extremes, and what would happen if people went to war over their disagreements of whether climate change was natural or influenced by man-made causes.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- I haven’t had much of a problem with this yet. I write for my day job, but it’s not particularly fascinating stuff. Marketing content, proposals, web content, etc. So it’s fun to roll up my sleeves in the evenings and weekends and write really fast-paced action instead of product differentiators.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Very much so. I started back in the early days when books were on tape, then CD, and the early days of MP3 books. I used to drive over 30 miles to and from work every day. I loved being able to listen to a book during my commute. Made the drive a lot less frustrating. Now I listen when I’m knitting, walking, or doing mundane chores. It’s a great way to get more “reading” in and entertain myself when I’m doing boring tasks.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- I think some of the more dramatic, emotional scenes come to life in a way in the audiobook that they may not on the printed page. There’s an immediacy in the spoken word that can’t be ignored. You can slow down when you’re reading, but the narration draws you into the tense nature of the scene and won’t let you go.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- Oh, absolutely!!! I’m intrigued by time travel more than just about any other scifi concept. Doctor Who is one of my favorite shows. If I could only go to one time and place, and not go to lots of places, I’d love to go back and relive my daughter’s birth. That was the most magical day of my life.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- This is hard, because the actors I envisioned when I wrote the book a long time ago, are far too old to play teens now. I don’t really have new actors in mind.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- I’d say they’re incorrect. As someone who does both, there are books I’ve read and books I’ve listened to, and I have to really think long and hard to remember which ones I listened to and which ones I read. A good story is a good story. The words are sucked into your brain, it’s just the pathways to get them there – either your eyes or your ears – that differ. I don’t think it matters beyond that. Plus, there are people who have difficulty reading due to poor eyesight or dyslexia, and audiobooks are everything to them. I can’t imagine why anyone would try to make one type of book inferior to another.
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