The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman (The Kelman Chronicles Book One) by Matthew Luddon, 171 pages, Zoe Rose Books, 2nd Edition, October 18, 2016, Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
by Leigh Holland
The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman is the first installment in a young adult dystopian series set in a fictional place known as the Empire. Much like ancient Rome, the Empire features a prime city, Dominion City, which serves as the seat of central government and political intrigue. Surrounding Dominion City is “the Interior”, a land of second class citizens and foreigners. Beyond the Interior are the Border lands, where the foreigners dwell. Dominion City contains wealth and power. The further one gets from it, the worse living conditions become, as policing soldiers take financial advantage of and torture innocent townsfolk. Conquered foreigners residing within the Empire are “the Stateless”, accused of terrorism and treason under a government they didn’t choose.
The novella opens with scenes depicting Caitlin’s entry into Dominion City. The imagery and feel of a stealth operation in the open is reminiscent of Peter Chung’s MTV animated series Aeon Flux. However, instead of an acrobatic spy, we’re following the journey of fourteen-year-old Caitlin Kelman across Dominion City. No longer an innocent, hopeful girl, Caitlin feels intense anger born from the Empire’s unjust slaying of her parents. Caitlin’s ultimate goal is not made plain. Her transitional goals are clear throughout the book and as each one is met, a new one replaces it. The tale is fast paced and Caitlin can trust no one, as everyone has a motive to use her for their own ends. By the end of this installment, Caitlin is on the run once more, a fugitive from the Empire’s brand of justice.
This novella ends leaving us with questions about why Caitlin made her life-altering choice and what her plans are as the series progresses. While sympathetic to Caitlin for her losses, her fear in the face of danger, and her struggles inside the city to survive, Caitlin demonstrates she has no difficulty killing, betraying others, or doing anything else she feels she needs to do to further her mysterious agenda. Caitlin exhibits a cold practicality. While it seems easy to judge Caitlin, we are reminded that the citizens of Dominion City have traded their morality for comfort and status, allowing foreigners and the poor to be cruelly mistreated and tossed aside by their society. The seemingly kind, honorable citizens tolerate and perpetuate an unjust Empire for their own benefit.
I enjoyed reading The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman. It’s an action filled, intrigue-oriented dystopian that sends a message about wealth disparity in modern societies and how far a government will go to hold onto power. It left me wanting to discover more about Caitlin’s motives and plans and the direction the city would take in the future. There were a couple of punctuation errors in the digital edition but these did not interfere with the overall enjoyment of the book. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction.
The upcoming installments are entitled The Burning Cities of Caitlin Kelman and The Ghosts of Caitlin Kelman. The first installment may be purchased at The Revolutions of Caitlin Kelman.