The Water Sign by C. S. Samulski
Publisher: Booktrope Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Full (392 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Poppy
The teachers taught us how to kill and made us dream for death. It is the only place the Struggle leads. And even it was a lie.
I am too old to be a child. Still too young to be a soldier. But I am trapped as both.
My name is Ayax, though some call me the Water Sign – and this is the story of how I died so that the world might live. In a future torn apart by catastrophic climate change, biological warfare, and geopolitical upheaval, corporations have taken over the role of nation states. Protected by the re-purposed United Nations and their dreaded Peacekeepers, these corporations and their mercenary armies wage endless wars across all that remains of civilization. And hidden in this chaos, someone or something is stealing children and programming them to fight. The warriors that emerge at age fourteen are vicious and unlike any the world has ever seen.
Exploited by his teachers, and pursued by others who would use him for their own ends, Ayax must navigate our dystopian future filled with treachery, unlikely allies and forbidden AI technology. Is he the Water Sign as the Kafkari believe he is, or merely another experimental weapon?
While this isn’t the usual book I choose to review, sometimes I take a leap outside the norm and stretch my wings a bit. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this and have to say, I was pretty blown away by the story.
This isn’t an easy read, or a quick one. The world building and the plot are incredibly complex and require full attention in order to process and understand just exactly what is going on. Even with that attention, there were times I felt just a bit lost.
There’s quite a mix of different things here: religion, politics, love … there are mentions of Elohim and Buddha, of countries like the United States or major cities like Paris and Tokyo. Even the UN exists. But all familiarity ends with the words for those things (except perhaps the UN which is very similar to my perception of how it works currently).
Interestingly, Ayax didn’t feel male to me at the beginning. Even with the clear indications of his gender, he felt softer than a male. Perhaps because the females in this story are not particularly soft, so the distinction between genders isn’t as well defined. As time and pages passed, however, Ayax became quite certainly male. There is even the currently popular and seemingly requisite love triangle here.
If you’re at all politically aware, you’ll find much about this story — set on a future earth — that will resonate with today’s society. It’s a bit frightening, but perhaps something we can all learn from. When I saw this was the author’s debut novel, I was honestly surprised. His prose is polished and I didn’t see many of the “rookie” mistakes many first time novelists make.
Overall, The Water Sign was impressive. Perhaps not a perfect story as there were some inconsistencies and a few times when the narrative was a bit too description and lacking action so my attention wandered. But even so, it’s very worthy of 5 solid stars.