Welcome to the new America, the one where everyone who reaches age 18 is shipped off to heavily controlled (albeit, dark and oppressive) compounds to work. Don’t worry, your meals and your housing are already taken care of. We’ll pay you, too. Sure, there’s a curfew and some rules… but that’s the price you pay for order.
What’s that? You don’t want to follow the rules? You don’t want to work in our compounds?
When Reed turns 18-years-old he’s shipped off to one of several heavily controlled compounds, part of a new national order known as the Great Reorganization Operation, or GRO. Once there, he spends his days as an involuntary worker at “The Hill” where he lives in a dorm and works in a factory. He receives reasonable pay, is fed and housed, and has some hours before curfew each day to mingle with other entrapped young people. There is no choice in the matter. Suddenly, Reed’s life is not his own.
At first, he’s furious. He longs to live without the heavy-handed discipline those who fall out of line endure. His roommates, Riley and Reagan, warn him that the ruling clique known as the Council has brutal methods of treating those who speak out against their governance. Better to keep your head down, they tell him. Better to stay alive.
But then Reed notices Nathan, a guy that never seems to have a bad day. Reed wants to learn his secret. At great risk, he joins with Nathan and other young people who meet covertly. To his surprise, the group’s focus centers around how to oppose the Council, the GRO, and everything those institutions stand for. Elijah, their leader, gives Reed a radically new perspective. But nothing is perfect and soon Reed is forced into a position where he must choose to sacrifice his own safety for another’s well-being. His decision sends him on a path he could’ve never anticipated.
Debut author, Ransom Grey, offers an adventurous mix of speculative and dystopic vision for the Y/A audience. In fact, his futuristic dystopia is unnervingly close to current day America. When Stars Go Out echoes the totalitarian overlord vibe of George Orwell’s 1984 with a cast of characters who are brave and honorable pitted against the machinations of a society gone very wrong. Grey’s prose is solid, with compassionate leads and a few scenes of violence to underscore the hatefulness of the GRO and the Council.
A dark dystopian fantasy, When Stars Go Out posits a credible projection from today’s current reality of a nation led by a dark and dreadful class of elitists, with the young people secretly meeting at the GRO facility as the only ones who have the guts to save it. Mr. Grey’s work is published with Defiance Press.