It’s been one hundred years since the Correction, the great reset that erased the misguided ideology and spurious intentions of an ancient civilization seemingly bent on destroying itself. The Biodome’s universal moral compass is under attack. Known as the existential virus (EV), she is not to be trifled with. She is judge, jury, and—when need be—executioner. The only cure for EV is an end to the Age of Resolve and a return to ancient times.
Seventeen-year-old Everett Steele has just transitioned from high school graduate to official disciple of the new order. After she and fellow Biodome agent Jake Domanso join together in a secret crusade to save EV from annihilation, they become immersed in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. Can they save humanity from the self-destruction of relative morality and the chaos of free will, or is history destined to repeat itself?
New Book Awards
Age of Resolve: The EV Chronicles
by Ilene Grydsuk
book review by Kate Robinson
“Back before EV became part of our DNA, society was riddled with… the unemployed, uninspired, and uninitiated; deviants, dissidents and rule breakers….”
It’s been nearly a hundred years since the Correction, a reset of humanity’s tenure on Earth. The new utopian society is policed solely by the implementation of the Existential Virus, a sentient awareness added to human DNA that corrects behavior in the Biodome. By infecting perpetrators with various types of viruses (mild illnesses as a warning for minor infractions and deadly disease for serious offenses), the rampant discontent and crime that plagued Earth’s previous societies have virtually disappeared, along with more than twenty percent of the most incorrigible people. Through an equitable distribution of resources, economic stability has been achieved. Citizen needs are met as all choose internships in career fields after high school. Climate change and environmental degradation have been painstakingly stabilized during the Age of Resolve, and life in this sustainable system is much happier for all beings.
When Everett Steele, a recent high school graduate, and her like-minded friend, Jake Domanso, enter their chosen fields in animal rehabilitation programs, they stumble upon a sinister plot to eliminate the EV. At great risk to themselves and their families, they pursue leads and dead ends until they find the source that is causing the EV to fail in ways that range from minor to deadly.
Author Grydsuk veers from typical dystopian fare in this unique debut novel. She strategically builds a believable universe at her story’s outset and continues to fine-tune characterizations, pacing, and plot toward a cliffhanging crescendo. Her highly relatable young heroes match wits with a powerful, manipulative villain who prefers the chaos of free will to the stability of the utopian lifestyle. Fans of young adult dystopian fiction such as The Hunger Games and the Divergent series will undoubtedly look forward to this book’s sequel.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
AGE OF RESOLVE
The E.v. Chronicles
iUniverse (286 pp.)
$20.99 paperback, $2.99 e-book
October 13, 2022
Grydsuk’s debut SF thriller explores a future made seemingly perfect.
Everett Steele just can’t imagine living in a time before the Correction, the event that a century earlier wiped out the “incorrigibles” who perpetrated war, addiction, famine, and other social ills and established the Biodome as the ruling force on Earth. Now, if someone engages in incorrigible activity, they get sick with the existential virus, called EV for short. In this environment, Everett graduates high school at 17 and becomes susceptible to EV, which does not affect children. She goes to work in her chosen field at the Department of Animal Welfare. It doesn’t take her long to go astray—she finds a
mysterious path that leads her to a concrete building with blacked-out windows, a throwback to the “ancients” that should have been destroyed when the world was remade. Inside, scientists work on a research project that will challenge everything Everett and the rest of world know about EV and the Biodome.The author deftly captures the voice of teenage Everett, eager to start her new life in the world the Biodome has created (“I thank my lucky stars that I was born in the Age of Resolve. I’ve had seventeen years to think about my purpose, my part in the AOR. Now it’s time to deliver”).When her beliefs are challenged, the reader is compelled to follow along as she struggles to understand why anyone would want to oppose that perfect world. The author’s prose is clean and precise, and there are few extraneous scenes. The science concerning genetics is convincing, befitting Grydsuk’s day job as a research fellow. The story might move faster without the quotes from the Bible and various philosophers at the beginning of each chapter and the more than 30 captioned photos of such atrocities as the Vietnam War and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster included here—they are distractions.
A worthy start to a new SF series mildly encumbered by extraneous supplemental materials.
Age of Resolve: The E.V. Chronicles
iUniverse, 286 pages, (paperback) $20.99, 978-1663244772
(Reviewed: February 2023)
Age of Resolve: The E.V. Chronicles is a dystopian YA science fiction novel set 100 years since the “Correction,” a reset movement that erased the misguided ideology and fake intentions of an ancient civilization bent on destroying itself.
Readers understand that the replaced civilization is our current one, which was plagued with cyberbullying, gambling, drug trafficking, lies, rumor, and innuendo, all of which have been corrected in this society. The new regime, called Biodome, is now the world’s one true power, but its universal moral compass that all persons are born with, known as the existential virus (EV), is under attack. The destruction of EV would mean ending the Age of Resolve (the new society) and returning to previous times.
Everett Steele, 17, has just transitioned from a high school student to a Biodome agent, a worker in this dystopian society. Like others, she’s required to start her job immediately after high school. As the story unfolds, she and fellow Biodome agent Jake join a crusade to save EV from destruction, which they believe would prevent humanity from falling into the chaos of free will, which doomed the earlier civilization.
Author Ilene Grydsuk skilfully builds this world, creating a scenario that will convince readers a movement like the Correction could actually happen. She explains in detail how the Correction occurred, hooking readers’ into the story, and the novel’s action keeps the pages quickly turning.
Meanwhile, the dynamic partnership between Everett and Jake as they go on their missions is equally believable and nicely layered, and the relationship they gradually build gives readers keen insight into their hopes, dreams, and thoughts.
The novel has a gripping mystery regarding the human race and its genes at its core. Readers will be enthralled by this mystery and by the narrative’s intriguing perspective on a world that required correction in the first place.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.
Age of Resolve
by Ilene Grydsuk
The sniffles suggest you’ve broken rules or behaved immorally in Grydsuk’s heady debut, an ambitious science-fiction story that opens with a denunciation of humanity itself, from a voice purporting to be its creator. “You have been weighed, measured, and found wanting,” humanity is told, deep into our present information age, just before a virus is unleashed upon it. The story itself picks up a century after this “Correction.” Now, humanity is kinder, better caretakers of the planet, and held to universal rather than relative moral standards. It’s ruled by the Biodome, whose series of “existential viruses” (EV)s have infected and wiped out millions of our age’s “incorrigibles” and now serve as a “righting protocol,” sending a virus to individuals who get out of line.
Readers’ guide to this provocative world is Midwestern teen Everett Steele, a recent high school graduate. Setting the novel apart from other visions of a future where free will is threatened, Grydsuk leaves it to readers to work out how this “Age of Resolve”—in which smallpox is weaponized to eliminate “the dregs of humanity in their power suits”—compares to our fractious present. Everett, though, believes in the Biodome, and her plans of a life working in the Department of Animal Welfare get upended when she discovers that powerful people are manipulating EV in cruel experiments.
Grydsuk blends elements of coming-of-age dystopian—or is utopian?—adventure with bold inquiries into free will and the nature of humanity. Would it be moral, the novel asks, to eliminate viruses purportedly crafted by God to root out “fraud and corruption and abuse of power”? The questions have power, and Grydsuk pens crisp, tense scenes of steadfast Everett and Biodome agent Jake, her eventual partner in protecting EV, contending with snakes, secrets, and the new Department of Citizen Safety, who carry ancient weapons called “gun”s. Less arresting are scenes of the seditious scientists themselves and a survey of human atrocities, with historical photos, that runs more than 30 pages, diminishing narrative momentum.
Takeaway: A provocative future where viruses target rulebreakers—and the hero sides with the viruses.
Great for fans of Kristin Cast’s The Key to Fear, Lauren Beukes.