Forced abortion, a "sanitized" Bible, and governmental control of all aspects of life are just a few of the troubling ideas found in The First Principle. In the not-too-distant future, the United Regions of America has formed. Governors hold territories instead of states, and while Washington, DC, is gone, the government has more control than ever before. For fifteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins, the daughter of a governor, this is life as usual. High school seems pretty much the same--until one day, that controlling power steps right through the door during study hall. When Vivica speaks out to defend her pregnant friend against the harsh treatment of Population Management Officer Marina Ward, she has no idea she's sowing the seeds of a revolution in her own life. But it isn't long before she discovers her own illegal pregnancy. Now she has to decide whether to get the mandatory abortion--or follow her heart, try to keep the baby, and possibly ruin her mother's chances at becoming president. A rebel group called the Emancipation Warriors, who are fighting to restore freedoms once held unalienable, offer her asylum. Can Vivica trust these rebels to help her or will they bring everything crashing down around her? Accepting their help may come with consequences she isn't ready to face. Marissa Shrock's debut novel crafts a chilling story of what may be to come if we allow the economic and moral crises currently facing our country to change the foundations on which we built our independence--and of the difference one person can make when they choose to trust God's lead.
The world presented in The First Principle is scary ... yet feels all too familiar. As I read, I thought, "This could really happen here." Not all of it, of course, but the disregard for life and hatred of God's Word are already present in our society—The First Principle just takes it to another level.
As teen dystopian fiction goes, this is really good. I appreciate Shrock's willingness to tackle tough issues like abortion and tolerance, and those issues are wrapped in an engaging story. I do have to say that the events near the end of the novel didn't keep my attention nearly as well as those at the beginning, but that may have just been me.
While romance isn't a main focus of The First Principle, Ben (Vivica's ex) and Drake (her "handler," so to speak) both make intriguing romantic partners for Vivica. If there's a sequel, and I truly hope there is, I'd love to see those relationships develop. I'm definitely "Team Drake" for now!
I have to be honest: I'm not a fan of the cover. I never would have picked up this book based on the cover alone. I'm glad I didn't let the cover influence my decision to read this book, but I'm afraid it will keep some teens away, and that's too bad. This is a thought-provoking novel that our teens should be reading. 4 stars. Content note: In a world where teens (and younger) are reading The Hunger Games,Divergent, and Twilight, The First Principle is quite tame. There is some discussion of sex, which is natural considering the main character is pregnant. Nothing is graphic or inappropriate, however, and I would think this novel is appropriate for ages 13 and up. Buy the book. (It's on sale for $1.99 until 2-15-15.) Read an excerpt. Download the discussion guide.
Marissa Shrock is a middle school language arts teacher and works with her audience every day. She's a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild courses, and is a member of the ACFW. Her articles for teens have been published in Evangel and Encounter. This is her first book. Visit her at www.marissashrock.com. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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