Hurricane: Hive Mind 3: by Janet Edwards (book review).

When the fans clamour for the next book before it can be scheduled by a mainstream publisher and an author writes faster than the big publishers can cope with, it makes sense to independently publish the books.

For a newcomer to the writing business this could be a dangerous move but, when the quality is maintained and a reputation has been built on the back of publication by a respected publisher, this is a risk worth taking. Janet Edwards’ ‘Earth Girl’ trilogy, published by HarperCollins, established her fan-base and her credentials. She is an exciting and imaginative YA author.

One of the challenges with an on-going series and, this one is intended to run well past the three books, is to prevent a formula creeping in and having them become predictable. In this far future world, the population is concentrated into huge, largely underground, structures referred to as Hives. Life within them is highly regulated. At eighteen, everyone goes through Lottery, a series of intensive tests to determine what kind of work they would be most suited to and then imprinted with the knowledge they need to carry out the job. Everyone is expected to be productive and there are no freeloaders. Even with this regulation, crime does still take place.

In volume one, ‘Telepath’, Amber was discovered to be a telepath, one of only five in her Hive. The telepaths are the ones who are able to track the criminals. They are rare and precious, so when Amber leaves her luxurious quarters she is always accompanied by a squad of bodyguards. Most of the population don’t know that compliance is overseen by only five people. They believe the hooded ‘nosies’ that patrol the corridors are telepaths and will read their minds.

As ‘Hurricane’ opens, Amber’s team are dropped straight into the action. They are requested to take over an operation from one of the other telepaths. There is a very strict rule that telepaths must never meet. Amber doesn’t know why but it is imprinted into the minds of all her squad. Subterfuge is needed to keep them apart. Once the situation is resolved, Amber is asked to take over permanently another responsibility and she discovers that the Hive has an Outside facility known as a sea farm. Many of the Hive dwellers are petrified of the Outside but Amber and her team have been there before. The moment she agrees, she is plunged into a new and complex situation.

There have been a number of incidents at the sea farm which have escalated into murder. Batches of suspects have been taken to the Hive for the telepath, Morton, to test their guilt or innocence. So far the guilty party has remained undetected, but members of the community are scared and fading into the countryside. That is a problem as, at New Year, a matter of weeks away, a census is taken.

If the population at the sea farm has fallen below a certain number, other Hives will impose sanctions. Morton is urgent need of an operation for which drugs and expertise of another Hive is required. If sanctions are imposed, he will die, the Hive will lose a telepath and the others will have problems policing the rest. To expedite the situation, Amber’s whole team, including caterers and cleaners, will have to temporarily relocate to the sea farm and, while there, no-one must discover that she is a telepath.

Edwards is one of those writers who thinks ‘what does the reader expect to happen?’ and does the opposite. She never lets her characters get too comfortable in their roles and gives them space to grow. By the end of the novel, Amber has discovered the reason why the sea farms exist and why telepaths must never meet. She has begun to understand that there is a non-conformist culture that exists within the boundaries of her Hive.

There is a little more about other Hives and the treaties between them. It is likely that more will be revealed in later books. Anyone wanting a fast paced, joyous YA book would enjoy this series, though stating with ‘Telepath’ would allow the reader to discover the workings of the society at the same pace that Amber does.

Pauline Morgan

May 2019

(pub: Independently Published, 2019. 394 page enlarged paperback. Price: £ 9.90 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-79526-638-3)

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