Archive of the Fives
by Stacey Rourke
Black Spot Books
YA Science Fiction
FEBRUARY 12th, 2019!!!
The end of the world is coming. How or when, scientists can't agree upon. For decades, Earth's best line of defense has been a team of young soldiers known as the Apocalypse Five, forced into virtual reality simulations to train for Doom's Day. But, this is no game. Death on the grid is brutally final and calls up the next in a long line of cadets. Stationed aboard the AT-1-NS Starship, the A5 are celebrities thrust into the limelight by a calling they didn't choose. All it takes is one unscheduled mission, showing seventeen-year-old team leader Detroit a harsh and unfathomable reality, to shake the A5's belief in all they thought they knew. After questioning people with the power to destroy them, the team is framed for a crime they didn't commit and marked for death. Now, the hunt is on. Can the Apocalypse Five expose the truth the starship would kill to keep hidden? Or, will their bravery end in a public execution?
The A5 consists of the most amazing heroes the starship has to offer. They are specially trained and ready to meet any obstacle that comes at them—all to ensure the survival of the human race. The extremely vivid and realistic training missions are viewed by everyone on board, making this group stars in their own right. The catch, however, is deadly. If they die on the virtual missions, they die in real life. This makes for quite the turnover in team members. Until the most recent group is formed. These five survive much longer than any others before. When they run across a strange scene in their mission, they realize that these virtual missions are more than they seem. And the truth will change existence as everyone knows it.
Tension and the brutality of the situation hit full force from the first chapter on. The author makes the circumstances these characters face clear, and this impact causes the story to grab right away. The characters are sympathetic, and it's hard not to feel for their situations even with their obvious personality flaws. Each one is very distinct, making it easy to keep them apart. Their interactions are believable, and their decisions are understandable. It's easy to cheer for them the entire way through.
While the story kept me in the pages until the very end, the first chapter or so did stumble. The author makes it clear from the beginning how harsh and dangerous the life of the A5s is, and the first round of characters is immediately hit hard. This caused for a little confusion as time jumped forward in the next chapter, and the empathy for characters had to be rebuilt. The world itself is well done, although there are more than a few holes in the background. Much of this seems to be waiting for resolution in the rest of the series, while some simply is a little light. Still, it's a fun read.
This is an exciting world to jump into, especially for fans of action, adventure, intrigue and simply harsh, violent moments. It grabs, it sits, and it ends on a cliffhanger. This book sets the stage for the rest of the series, one which promises to be exciting and full of surprises.