The First Principle
Vivica Wilkins is sixteen years old, and a bit of a rebel. She has hacked her school’s computer network so her fellow students can exchange messages without the school knowing. For the right price, she can get into the grading system and change grades for her friends.
Vivica’s world is North America in the not too distant future. After the Great Collapse and the Second Civil War, the World Peacekeepers intervened in war-ravaged North America. What were formerly the United States, Canada, and Mexico are divided into seven regions. Vivica lives in the Great Lakes Region.
Normally, this would not matter much to a teen-ager. However, Vivica’s mother is the Governor of the Great Lakes Region, and is about to be nominated to be President of the United Regions of North America.
But all is not well in this dystopian world. Rebels and dissenters challenge authority that squelches individual freedoms, including religion. Particularly odious is the Posterity Protection and Self-Determination Act, a law which, among other things, requires the termination of unapproved pregnancies.
Vivica discovers she is regnant. She learns her boyfriend, Ben, is part of the rebel organization. Vivica faces a huge conflict. She wants to believe the government knows what is best, but the life growing inside calls her to consider another alternative. Ben wants to help her avoid termination.
Her mother is the victim of an assassination attempt that kills the current president. Vivica’s mother is wounded but recovers. Vivica’s bodyguard and friend is killed protecting her mother. His replacement is Anita Ward, an agent of the Population Management Clinic. Anita has her own agenda and protecting Vivica is not very high on it. Earlier in the story, Vivica had a run-in with Ward when the agent forcibly removed a pregnant girl from Vivica’s class.
Vivica’s fears for her baby are magnified by Ward’s presence. When Vivica’s mother learns of the pregnancy, she demands it be terminated, in part because of her own political ambitions.
Vivica runs away with the help of Ben and his cousin, Drake. She soon enters the world of the rebels, a world of Christians fighting for their beliefs.
While she is moving from place to place in the rebel network, Ward finds her every time. Vivica moves again and again, and those who help her are killed. Is there a mole in the rebel forces?
While on the run, Vivica uncovers information about the assassination. It wasn’t done by the rebels but by members of the government who don’t want her mother to become president. Vivica’s life, and the lives of those helping her are soon in even greater danger.
While among the rebels, Vivica slowly opens her heart to God and seeks him to protect her and her baby.
Vivica is strong person yet vulnerable and frightened. The author does good job of showing multiple layers of Vivica’s character: snarky adolescent, frightened pregnant teen-ager, fearful of whom she can trust. Shrock does an excellent job of creating a character who is flawed in so many ways, yet has drive and determination. Vivica is a character we care about.
Vivica’s spiritual journey to Christ is believably done. Shrock doesn’t sugarcoat the Christian message. Doesn’t avoid the issues of why prayers don’t seem to be answered and why bad things happen.
Pace is brisk, but not so fast the reader loses track of the characters, setting, or plot. All the characters are flawed, just like in real life. All struggle with choices and consequences.
One minor issue I have with the novel is there are times when the author seems to settle for naming a feeling rather than showing it to us through the character’s behavior and dialogue.
The reveal of the mole at the end of the story is well done. Shrock plants seeds that indicate it could be any one of several characters. When the culprit is finally revealed it is a surprise that makes sense. Excellent job of giving just enough hints to keep us guessing. And at the end, you see how it all pointed to that one person.
This is a highly entertaining and exciting YA novel with a genuine Christian perspective.
I give it 4.5 stars and strongly recommend it for those who like thrillers and romance rolled into one.
I was given a copy of the novel in return for an honest, unbiased review.
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