Far from just another dystopia, Kyle Waller’s Ward creates an immersive universe of inviting darkness. The action packed pages will easily grip your attention. This makes for an easy and entertaining summer reading.
To begin with, this story has no heroes, in the classical sense, only villains. Thus, making it more difficult for the reader to identify with a character. On the other hand, dwelling more on the dark side is certainly more intriguing and perhaps even makes the events seem more realistic. After the main character is faced with the following proposal: Up the river? Or down in the dirt? He ends up in the prison-city of what once was Sacramento California. The Ward is a place of no redemption, only survival. On one hand, the condemned must face nature, as ash keeps snowing over the land. But on the other hand, far more dangerous are the people who inhabit these parts. As the inhabitants are divided into several groups competing for some very limited resources, the power-plays that emerge are the main threat. Well, Kyle Waller throws his main character in the midst of this ongoing war, thus allowing the reader to jump straight into the action.
However, beyond all the action and thrill of Ward, there is a more serious issue underlining the entire narrative, mental illness. While at certain points its presence becomes blatantly obvious, at other times, it is much more subtle. It is this subtleness that I found more impressive. In these cases, it resembles an invisible presence, something that you can’t see, but can only feel. And this sensation of uneasiness is masterfully woven into the pages of the novel. Setting aside the story line, the book can serve as an incentive to prompt more dialogue on this often ostracized subject, which in reality as well, lurks mostly in the shadows.
All in all, Ward by Kyle Waller is certainly a strong start to his The Ward Trinity. This first book is more than simply an introduction to a dystopian universe, it is an immersion. Even if at times, you resurface to reality for some fresh air, something keeps pulling you back to the remaining pages. While, the book is not suitable for certain age groups due to some strong language and images, it stays appealing to a large number of people. There is something reminiscent of such classic stories as Mad Max or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but with a strong smell of freshness in the air.