Title: The Underground
Author: Liv Evans
Series: Derivates Rising
Page Length: 395
Publication Date: Oct 10, 2020
Synopsis: “When freedom is a luxury, resistance is inevitable.”
The Government rule the Hub with an iron fist, their strict laws enforced by Derivates, humans with psionic abilities. When one of these Derivates flees her post, they send KC-847, a powerful telekinetic, to bring her back. However, KC-847 soon learns his team are unprepared for what they find in the tunnels, and the mission goes awry.
Flit, a plucky teleporter, works for the Underground resistance, the last refuge for Derivates wishing to live free of the Government’s control. On a routine security patrol, Flit comes across KC-847 and breaks all the rules to bring him back to the Underground.
However, KC-847’s arrival brings with it a string of deadly events that threaten the safety of the Underground. Convinced the incidents are more than unfortunate coincidences, Flit refuses to fall back on a false sense of security and drags KC-847 on an investigation that will change the trajectory of Derivate-kind forever.
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In a futuristic dystopian world where authoritative control reigns supreme, Derivates, people with special powers, exist. The world, which has been ravaged by war, includes two distinctly different places – the Hub and the Underground, and Derivates live in both. The Hub is the above-ground, government-controlled society that is strict and regimented, and the Underground is the well-hidden compound where rebel Derivates live free from the government. The lives of the Derivates are vastly different depending on where they live and which side of society they are on.
Derivates in the Hub are treated like machines, controlled and enslaved for the government’s use. They have no rights, no luxuries, and no feelings, thanks to a government-controlled implant. In the Underground, Derivates are free and equal with lives, love, and feelings.
This story focuses more on the Underground, though the Hub is clearly detailed. The Underground, a maze of tunnels and rooms where the rebels live, is a wonderful and complicated compound, and the way that the rebels are able to create such a well-functioning, technologically advanced, and inclusive community intrigued me. The Underground is a vivid and immersive world that draws you in from the first page.
When a Hub retrieval mission fails, soldier KC-847, the sole survivor, is rescued by Flit, a rebel from the Underground. Flit sees that KC-847 is wounded and takes him to the underground rebel base to help him. While there, KC-847 has the chance to experience a different kind of life – life with freedom, possibility, and choice. But will KC-847, who is used to a regimented, unfeeling life, want to remain in the Underground, or will he return to his life in the Hub?
The characters in this story are richly developed and realistic. From the funny telekinetic mentor to the calm and intelligent leaders to the boisterous friends, I loved them all. There’s a camaraderie in the Underground, a strength of community that plays a pivotal role in their survival and their happiness. Plus, they have really cool powers! I mean, who wouldn’t want a friend that can teleport or read minds? Other powers include the ability to heal, super strength and speed, the ability to make others sleep, and more.
Flit is a fabulous protagonist. She is a warrior, fierce, confident, and skilled, and I love her cocky yet optimistic personality. Flit is a woman who has suffered deep loss, and though she grieves deeply, with the help of family and friends, she survives. Flit is strong, sure, and hopeful, and maybe a little too inquisitive for her own good. She believes in a better future for everyone, and that hope is inspiring. I think that’s why she gets away with so much because most of her shenanigans are inspired by good intentions. I also think KC-847 appreciates her complex and dynamic character more than anyone.
KC-847, as he is known for the first part of the book, is my favorite character. He changes so much through the course of the book, and his growth is admirable. He goes from a brainwashed, robotic military drone to a deep-feeling, sympathetic fighter for the rebellion. His process of coming to terms with his new reality is fascinating to watch and makes me want to jump into the book and help him. KC-847 changes his name to Scraps, learns to joke (unsuccessfully), to flirt (again, not always successfully), to interact with others, and to be himself, and, even though he’s never had those opportunities in the past, he embraces his new reality with determination and enthusiasm. His naturally calm and controlled shell slowly breaks away as he comes to understand and appreciate all of the opportunities for him in the Underground. It is a time of new beginnings for KC-847/Scraps, and his wonder in exploring things that others would consider mundane or uninteresting is fantastic.
Scrap’s heart seized with emotion. He had never been hugged before. What is a hug but a useless display of human affection? Or at least, that was what he had been told. Even though he just sat there in her arms, not knowing how to respond, he enjoyed the emotional physical contact more than he ever imagined he would.
The slow-building romance between Flit and KC-847/Scraps is absolutely fantastic! Flit has loved before and lost her love to a terrible tragedy. KC-847/Scraps, however, is still adjusting to having feelings. He doesn’t recognize his growing feelings for Flit and struggles to define them. His endearing inexperience and her fear and reluctance to love again make for an epic and swoon-worthy, slow-building romance. I loved watching these two grow closer, and their tender moments are beautiful.
As much as I love the romance, there is an interesting plot as well. There are some strange and unlikely problems that start to occur in the Underground. Pipe leaks, missing goods, and other small situations cause Flit to suspect foul play. With the help of KC-847, Flit tries to uncover the possible traitor in their midst. So, in addition to training KC-847 to be part of her patrol team, Flit begins to unravel a deadly plot among the rebels and the Hub.
An immersive read with dynamically-developed characters and poignant messages, The Underground tackles big issues like grief, survivor’s guilt, building and ending relationships, family dynamics, and finding oneself. It seems as if many people in the book have to adjust to a new normal, whether that’s life in a new community, life without a loved one, or life with unrequited love. The author’s skill in handling complicated issues with delicacy, realism, and poignancy is impressive. These issues, the characters, and the plot are so richly layered and well-developed that I didn’t want the story to end. I can’t wait to read The Hub, the second book in the Derivates Rising trilogy!
Thanks so much to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance, the romance, the romance, the romance. Did I mention that I really loved the romance? 🙂
- The characters. They are dynamic, interested, well-layered, and defined.
- The dystopian world. I can’t wait to learn more about it in the next book!
- The powers. I’m still debating which one I’d want! 🙂
When freedom is a luxury, resistance is inevitable.
I recommend this to readers who enjoy dystopian romance with dynamic characters and great world-building.
I am absolutely delighted to be hosting this AMAZING giveaway for Liv Evans’ upcoming release The Underground! The winner receives a paperback copy of The Underground, a bookmark, custom hand-poured candle, cotton tote bag, enamel pin, and a vinyl decal. How fantastic is that? I’m loving that tote!
To enter this fantastic giveaway, click the image or link below!