Reviewing BooksForAri -Britt Holewinski’s “Schism”

SchismSchism by Britt Holewinski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a complete groupie when it comes to utopian/dystopian novels and anything ethically or morally questionable. So when I saw “[kids rule the world because all the adults are dead]” I thought to myself, YESSSS, TINY HUMANS ARE JUST UNTRAINED PEOPLE WITH MINIMAL MORALS. If there are no adults or societies to train them, what would they make of the world?! I didn’t exactly get what I… expected? I guess, it was a lot more traditional dystopian than I originally anticipated.

Hmmm… My feelings on this book were fairly divided… The summary was intriguing enough to request on NetGalley, and the story line was very Lord of the Flies meets The Walking Dead which kept me interested enough to finish; yet, I felt like the writing was somewhat lacking.

Every character is white, except for a secondary character that plays the role of Maria, the daughter of a Hispanic drug lord. *eye roll* The lack of diversity is something that I’m used to. And because it’s such a commonality, I don’t usually let it affect my rating of a book, but I always feel like it’s something worth mentioning in my reviews. (Not going to lie, the whole drug and slut trope constantly being applied to Hispanic/Latinx/Spanish-speaking/South American characters really irks me, but that’s an issue to be addressed at a later time.)

The author also makes an effort to point out that everyone involved in the story is beautiful and skilled things they’ve obtained via osmosis from all the dead adults lol. Andy is damn-near a surgeon before she’s 20. Charlie is a certified genius and youngest. Ben and Jim have military physique and mental capabilities without any prior training. There is no gray characters; it’s all black and white. Everyone fits a kind of purpose and specific criteria for the stereotypical good or bad qualities. They lack that sort of depth that usually accompanies dystopian novels, which are constantly filled with characters that toe the line of benevolence and malevolence. Where are the ugly people? Where are the kind-of-decent-looking characters that struggle in this new world because they literally only know the Pythagorean Theorem? Where are the ones that can’t even tell the difference between good and evil anymore?

Granted, there’s a huge gap of time missing, given that the story jumps forward 5 years, but I would have liked to see the cultivation of this new world and how the children established their hierarchy after they’ve fully exhausted anarchy. I wanted to see more dimensionality with the characters. I felt like they were too perfect. And so dry. The writing made each of them seem unintentionally straight forward and very much no-non-sense, which could be a result of the new post-virus world, but if that’s the case, then where’s the internal monologues? The explanatory chapters flashing back to the instances hopefully from the 5-year gap that led up to these stoic moments? WHERE IS THE PASSION?! THE THRILLS?! SUSPENSE?!

FYI: the suspense in this book never lasted long, which kind of boggled me. Every issue that arose was solved before the next issue arose, instead of being suggested and weaved across plot. Maybe I’m just missing the interwoven plotlines because this is only the first book? But there wasn’t really much of a build up and because the characters were so direct, the reader always knew where the story line was headed…

… It wasn’t… bad? I think the author lays down all these beautiful ideas that were itching to be explored, which I think is as equally a positive as it is a negative one. Positive, because it gives the reader the opportunity to fill in the blanks and take it upon themselves to explore possible outcomes and what-if situations that result from the post- apocalyptic virus world that the author has created. Negative because there just wasn’t enough information for the implied ideas to be thoroughly appreciated. Though the writing is as simplistic and thought-provoking as a book like The Giver, the target audience doesn’t share the same age group which and the expectations for each are different. The content of Schism seemed for an older crowd. Because of the author’s background, there was an almost-personal feel to the ideas of government conspiracies and terrorism, but that same effort wasn’t put into other aspects of the book, like setting, history, and character development.

Overall, it wasn’t a waste of my time. I relatively enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends. I would, however, recommend it to my philosophy partners just to get their take on such situations.

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