Title: Beyond the Gates
Series: The Starborn Redemption, Book 1
Author: Jason D. Morrow
Narrator: Stacy Gonzalez
Publication Date: April 20, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
From the author—
The Containment Zone is a 500-mile radius surrounded by mountains and closed in by gates. No one can leave, and anyone who tries will die. Within are lawless bandits, corrupt soldiers, and once-human greyskins that hunt down people to spread the virus. Some say the Containment Zone is where the greyskin virus originated. Others say the people inside are little more than lab rats being studied by the nefarious Screven government.
When 12-year-old Skylar and her father, Liam, are caught trying to escape, they are taken to Vulture Hill, a government prison camp no one has ever left alive. Inside the prison, Skylar learns that the facility is little more than a testing site for finding people of a certain bloodline – the Starborn. These are people with special powers that manifests in various spectacular ways, and Screven wants to exploit them.
Skylar has always known there was something special about her family. For years, her father has had the ability to completely numb pain with just a thought. Lacerated skin, broken bones, they can all be ignored with enough concentration. Learning that her father is a Starborn means Skylar is probably one too, placing them both in extreme danger.
Now, father and daughter must do the impossible and break out of a prison known for killing so many. But Liam has leverage the government may be willing to buy – the cure for the greyskin virus.
The first two books of The Starborn Redemption are set 40 years after The Starborn Ascension and 17 years before The Starborn Uprising. Each Series can be listened to independently.
There are a couple of things that set Beyond the Gates apart from so many post-apocalyptic zombie tales. First, one of the two protagonists is a 12-year-old child but this is not a middle grade book. Second, the other protagonist is her father and his primary goal is her safety, a refreshing change from the usual macho guy who has to be a hero. Skylar and Liam are an appealing pair and I felt they were pretty well fleshed out but I thought most of the secondary characters were more two-dimensional except for Nine.
While the core story is intense, dwelling as it does on the imprisonment of these two in separate sections of the prison—reminding me quite a lot of the separation of parents and children that’s happening on our border—I wanted to know much more about the world before the virus struck and a brutal government came to power. Strong worldbuilding is crucial in science fiction but it’s lacking here and, since I haven’t read anything by Jason D. Morrow before, I don’t know if he normally saves the background work for later books in a series. I hope so because I enjoyed spending time with Skylar and Liam and Nine in this perilous society and I can see a really good series in the making.
Stacy Gonzalez had the perfect voice for Skylar, imbuing her with a mix of fright and compassion while allowing her intelligence to come through. Nine was also a vivid character but Liam and other male voices were less successful, not so distinguishable from females. Ms. Gonzalez has good pacing and intonations, though, that reflect the situation and I enjoyed listening to her narration.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2019.
About the Author
About the Narrator
Stacy Gonzalez is a Chicago based narrator and commercial voice actor. She is feisty, bright and expressive. Stacy specializes in YA, self-help and romance, especially when the narration calls for a good handle on comedy, wit and sass. Audiofile Magazine has praised her pace and her ability to create bold characters. Stacy, who is half Colombian, speaks conversational Spanish. She has a great love for Old Hollywood—watching the movies and listening to audiobooks about any and every aspect of it! Follow her on Twitter at @stacygonzalezvo or visit her website at stacygonzalezvo.com.
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