Daniel Blythe (@danblythewriter)
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)
“ She could smell burning flesh. She didn’t know if it was her own.
She was screaming inside. Beth knew the scene from a thousand safety visuals.
In her mind she saw the ship, a vast slab covered in twinkling lights, a flying mega-
city, now in flames. Burning itself to death.… ”
Strap in for launch - we’re off to a distant galaxy where young Bethany Aurelia Kane, Sister in the Chapter of Continual Progress, Citizen of the Galactic Collective, has cheated death. Now, the fun begins as she has to fight for her life.
Crash landing on The Edge (a penal colony - not the guy from U2) in an escape pod launched from a great starship, Beth finds herself stranded on a planet light years from civilisation - but she isn’t alone.
Here, in a kind of YA nod to Alien 3 are a group of young prisoners who have converted a scientific base into a makeshift home. These delinquents have survived against the odds by planting crops, sourcing fresh water, and establishing electrical power – aided by a contingent of mechanised Drones.
So far, so good - but The Edge isn’t a hospitable place and storms, power failures, illness and death are just a few of the challenges the teenage exiles battle. As Beth accustoms herself to her new life on The Edge, she has to overcome her fears, learn new skills and earn the respect of leader Zach, the arrogant Colm, the resentful Mia and the others. But when a terrible, violent event shatters the colony’s existence, it seems nothing will ever be the same. Who among them is a killer? And just how isolated are they really?…
As the clock ticks towards a final revelation, Beth needs all her new skills and resourcefulness to stop The Edge from plunging into anarchy. And she has her own secret too – one which will prove decisive in the battle for survival…
Modestly describing itself as ‘A stunning YA dystopian novel’ on amazon Exiles is a fun read which should appeal to sci-fi fans of all ages. Blythe brings a host of great ideas to this murdery space mystery and it you’ll soon be lapping up the intrigue that befalls the characters. Beth is a wickedly cool heroine who gets some great lines - my personal fav being the short but sweet message ‘for you and all creatures like you’ she gives when confronting an unexpected enemy.
The tension between the convicts and Beth is well worked. Suspicion and danger that feels like a tribute to Lord of the Flies or Lost - Blythe mines the dark recesses of human fear and anger to bring things to a suitably exciting climax.
Exiles is great, bordering on the ‘stunning’ but certainly an easy book to recommend without hesitation! Let’s hope Blythe returns to this universe at some future point!!
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WHO IS DANIEL BLYTHE?
Daniel Blythe was born in Maidstone and attended Maidstone Grammar School and St John's College, Oxford, then Christ Church University, Canterbury. As well as being a writer he has worked as a tour guide, a languages tutor, a translator, a Lifelong Learning development worker and a tutor of Creative Writing.
He is the author of several novels for children and adults, as well as a writer of non-fiction on subjects as diverse as popular music, politics, collecting gadgets and games, parenting and the history of robotics. He has written several of the official Doctor Who books licensed by the BBC, including Autonomy. Daniel's first book with a teenage narrator was The Cut, which was followed by further novels Losing Faith and This is the Day. In 2012 his first supernatural fantasy novel for young readers, Shadow Runners, was published. Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones (for age 9-12) was published in 2015 and a sequel Emerald Greene: Instruments of Darkness in 2017. He has written shorter 'reluctant reader' books called New Dawn, I Spy (nominated for the Leicester Reading Rampage Award 2018), Fascination, Kill Order, Hope and Truth and Kiss the Sky.
Daniel has worked as a visiting author in over 400 schools, and has taught on the MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. He now mentors, advises and edits writers of all ages through Cornerstones UK and the Faber Academy and is a regular judge on the Novel Slam for the 'Off The Shelf' festival. Daniel lives in the Peak District, with his wife and their two student children.
Follow him at:
Twitter : https://twitter.com/danblythewriter
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/danblythewriter/
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