by Katrina Mountfort
Disclaimer: I’ve got to know Katrina Mountfort through social media and she has written some very lovely reviews of my books. This has had no influence on my review but as a reader you I feel this is something of which you need to be aware.
The Blueprint Trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. In Forbidden Alliance, the second book of the trilogy, more than sixteen years have passed since Caia and Mac, now renamed Cathy and Michael, fled their oppressive lives, although the plight of those who remain in the Citidomes is never far from their minds.
Cathy and Michael now have three children and Citidome life is a distant memory. But for Cathy, village life is no longer idyllic. While Michael is famed as the leader of the Alliance of Outside Communities, she is left holding the baby. When a chance arises for her to fulfil her potential, will she make the right choices? Michael, however, is too preoccupied to notice Cathy’s personal struggles.
Heightened security in the Citidomes has resulted in fewer escapees, a shortage of young farmers and a depleted gene pool in the village. While Michael unveils his most audacious plan yet to liberate rebels from the Citidomes, will his devotion to the cause cost him the love of his wife and daughter? And will his plan endanger his life, as well as those of his allies?
Forbidden Alliance is also the story of Cathy and Michael’s sixteen year-old daughter Joy. Fiercely intelligent but with limited career options, she fights against the future her father has planned for her: marriage to village boy Matt. Forbidden from seeing Harry, the nomadic canal-dwelling boy she has loved since childhood, she finds friendship from an unexpected source: BodyPerfect ex-citizen Ryan, whose perfect Citidome looks are less than perfect in the outside world. And her illusions about life in the Citidomes are about to be shattered.
In addition to the issues explored in Future Perfect, the first book of the trilogy, Forbidden Alliance poses additional questions, including those of leadership, family loyalties and whether it is possible to justify the sacrifice of human lives for the greater good.
Forbidden Alliance is the second book of the blueprint trilogy and takes place sixteen years after the events of Future Perfect (you can read my review of Future Perfect here). In it we find out what has happened to Cathy and Michael since they escaped the dystopian paradise of the Citidome into what has turned out to be a far tougher life outside.
While the storyline from Future Perfect is continued, this is very much a coming-of-age tale, predominantly from the perspective of Joy. Through her eyes we see the strain her parents have lived under, trying to balance the survival of the outside communities when faced with an ageing population and low birth rates, alongside the desire to rescue more people from the Citidomes. At the same time, Joy is encountering the turbulent world of love and relationships for the first time, and when that love is at odds with the needs of her family and community, it sets off a chain of events that will change them all forever.
Forbidden Alliance is a really interesting step change from the more straight-forward escape story of Future Perfect. Setting the book sixteen years in the future has allowed Mountfort to introduce more depth to what was already an excellent story. Her handling of the impact external pressure have had on Cathy and Michael’s relationship, and the claustrophobic pressure of living in quite an insular community, is excellently done.
I found myself personally less involved in the love triangle at the heart of Joy’s story but this is more to do with what interests me rather than any fault with the writing, which captures all the earnestness and heartache of young love to the full. I’m sure the target demographic of this YA novel will lap this storyline up.
Overall this is an excellent middle book to the trilogy, bringing in new storylines, adding depth and setting things up nicely for the third and final part. If you are a fan of YA dystopian novels, you really should give this series a try. Recommended.
Dylan S. Hearn
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)