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The Hilltop


Book Review: Nova’s Blade by Will Sci-fi

Image courtesy of Brandon Lawson.

“Nova’s Blade” is a young adult dystopian fiction book released in February of this year with a story that has something for people of all ages, and leaves readers on the edge of their seats while flipping through the pages.

In a recent interview with The Hilltop, author Brandon Lawson, who uses the pen name Will Sci-fi, mentioned that he prefers to use his writing to create discussions about real life occurrences.

“I like using fiction to bring awareness to reality, as opposed to just telling people about it. I can show them through a fictional lens, and that brings their attention to real life issues,” Lawson said.

Lawson is a 24-year-old from Antioch, California, a city about 45 minutes away from San Francisco. He currently works as an english teacher at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California, while also studying at California State University – East Bay as an MBA student.

Nova’s Blade” is set in the distant future in a post-war society known as the Corporate States of America, where citizens must pay for subscriptions to receive public services such as treatment at hospitals or protection by law and law enforcement agencies.

As global society has become more dependent on advanced technologies, the planet entered an intergalactic war. Political and governmental affairs have become increasingly influenced by the interests of commerce, and consequently, corporations have replaced nation-states within the global economy, and governments are administered by businesses.

The protagonist, Nova, comes from an impoverished family and under-resourced community known as “the Shed,” but is chosen to participate in the popular television show, The Last Valkyrie. The show is an annual “battle to the death” style competition of 32 women in which the winner gains a fortune and the remaining contestants face fatal consequences.

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In her pursuit of winning the fortune, Nova encounters several challenges along the way, such as dealing with love, friendship, trusting her competitors and leaving her family.

“Nova’s Blade” explores notions such as using coercion to achieve one’s goals, personal sacrifice, ingratitude or never being satisfied and corporatism, which is the idea of government serving the needs of wealthy interest groups.

The book has many parallels with society, including a conflicting relationship between citizens and the government, corporate greed, an indigenous population that was the victim of political violence, and the widespread use of narcotics.

The novel also depicts a mutually beneficial and interdependent relationship between government and businesses in the media industry. In the story, media productions, such as the very popular television show “The Last Valkyrie,” are used to distract citizens from extreme unfavorable political decisions.

The novel’s plot remains unpredictable as the story progresses, and the book’s ending leaves the reader yearning for more and considering the possibility of a sequel.

As a fan of sci-fi films and novels, Lawson watched over 500 films throughout the last seven years, and mentioned the themes found in the book were influenced by his interest in futuristic ideas, the concept of a very limited government in society, as well as real life events.

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“I started writing the book in 2020, during the pandemic, election cycle, and public reaction to the unlawful killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. In my opinion, I saw that we think the government would save people, but it’s more of an absence,” Lawson said.

“I considered an opposite to Orwell’s ‘1984’ and took that to the extreme level where there are no public services, and people are at the mercy of corporations. It’s not a pro-government or anti-government statement but demonstrates how a corporate government can be oppressive,” he continued.

In addition to the fact that “Nova’s Blade” is a captivating story that elicits strong emotions from readers, the book also benefits from Lawson’s writing style, which is digestible for most audeiences. Lawson provides multiple perspectives of events that occur in the book, offering ample evidence into the motivations of each character.

Lawson expressed that he wanted the book’s main takeaway to be open to interpretation for readers, but believes a central argument of the book is that people can endure their circumstances no matter what.

Lawson also mentioned that in addition to working on a sequel for “Nova’s Blade,” he is open to the possibility of a cartoon or television show if there is interest.

“I plan on writing a sequel sometime at the end of this year or in 2023. I believe my role as an author and teacher allows me to have a greater impact on our society’s youth. I plan to grow in that role and see how much I can help,” he said. 

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 “Nova’s Blade” is available for purchase on both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

Copy edited by: N’dia Webb


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