Rummanah Aasi
   Imagine a world where the age of discovery has been ruled as a deafening darkness and the very notion of dreaming is looked down upon. In the Temple City people have come to believe that the Vicar's who rule and teach them have the final say. Although some express their discontent in minor ways, most choose to exist under their rule and except their way without question. What happens when you break the chains of your confining society? Can you live a life without crippling fear and progression of any kind? These are the core questions asked in David Litwack's highly readable dystopian fantasy book called There Comes a Prophet.

Description (from Goodreads): Who among us will cast aside a comfortable existence and risk death to follow a dream?  A world kept peaceful for a thousand years by the magic of the ruling vicars. But a threat lurks from a violent past. Wizards from the darkness have hidden their sorcery in a place called the keep and left a trail of clues that have never been solved.
   Nathaniel has grown up longing for more but unwilling to challenge the vicars. Until his friend Thomas is taken for a teaching, the mysterious coming-of-age ritual. Thomas returns but with his dreams ripped away. When Orah is taken next, Nathaniel tries to rescue her and ends up in the prisons of Temple City. There he meets the first keeper of the ancient clues. But when he seeks the keep, what he finds is not magic at all.

Review:  There Comes a Prophet introduces us to a world the potential to become good or evil is constantly hung in the balance. Fear of ruin, danger, and the unknown, is what keeps the citizens of Temple City in line and safe. Some blindly follow the rules ingrained in them by the Vicars, the rulers of the society.   Technology and other similar advancements are forbidden and the very idea of dreaming of a different future other than the status quo is dangerous and unthinkable.
 The plot revolves around three friends, all young adults, coming of age and trying to weave and understand why their society keeps its citizens from reaching their full potential. I thought the main characters were likable and I willingly joined them on their journey filled with riddles to find out the truth about the past, to inspire others from learning from their mistakes, and to regain control of their lives without living in fear. Due to the book's third person narration, however, I was unable to get closer to the characters than I would have liked. I did, however, appreciate that each character's personality stood out on their own and that they weren't clearly defined as good/bad as each had their own personal motive driving their actions. I just wished the author delved a little deeper into the complexity of the world and the character's personality. Although I liked the characters, I didn't think they were memorable. 
  While there is no violence or epic battle scenes in the book, I appreciated reading about a rebellion that was relatively blood-free and peaceful. The book lacked any sense of urgency or danger which made the progress of our main characters a bit unbelievable and unsatisfying. Brief descriptions of psychological torture used by some members of the Temple were alarming, but the tension soon fizzled out once the job was done. I was surprised on how many people knew about what this technique and did nothing about it. I would have liked the adults to stand up against the corrupt, ruling organization rather than enabling it, but that's a common trope featured in many YA dystopian novels.  
    Some readers may be a bit concerned about the religious overtones in the book, but the author doesn't specifically pick one religion. It uses the idea of a religious institution keeping the people under control while reaping the benefits of technology, which is found in many other dystopian reads. It did take me a while to figure out what it meant to be in the 'light' and 'darkness' but it soon clicked after a few chapters. 
  There Comes a Prophet is a solid read and engaging read that held my interest throughout. The book's themes could easily generate lots of interesting discussions had the author allowed the plot and characters to become a bit more darker and complex. I would recommend this book to readers who like the dystopian or fantasy genre, but want a story a bit more hopeful than gritty and realistic.
Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: While there is no physical violence in the book, the children do undergo a form of psychological torture as part of their conditioning. Recommended for strong Grades 5 readers and up.

If you like this book try: City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau, Giver by Lois Lowry
2 Responses
  1. Candace Says:

    I found this to definitely be an easier read for a dystopian since it didn't have the urgency others had. But it was very thought provoking and I definitely agree that it's one people could discuss at length. Thanks so much for hosting a tour stop and for your review!


  2. This one isn't ringing my bell for some reason. It sounds very complicated. Guess with everything else going on this month I need simple. And maybe happy.
    And when you rate it a three, that's kind of a no read for me.

    Heather


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