Catharine Bramkamp’s sci-fi ‘The Future Girls’ series first began with the release of FUTURE GIRLS (book 1), followed by FUTURE GOLD (book 2) in July 2015. They were both released by Eternal Press, with their covers designed by no other than Dawné Dominique. Both books can be read as stand-alones, however if book one is read first the reader will grasp the idea of book 2 more easily.
FUTURE GIRLS (The Future Girls #1)
On October 10, 2145, eighteen-year-old Charity Northquest’s whole future is ahead of her–and the future sucks.
On October 11, 2145, she unexpectedly has a chance to fix it. When her best friend is reported killed, but then re-appears the next day as an old woman, everything Charity has been taught is called into question. Even if she does not believe in time travel, she has little choice. So the ill-prepared Charity travels back to the mysterious and captivating 21st century where her single purpose of changing the future fades with the increasingly more urgent question of whether she can survive the past.
Future Girls is the first book of the Future Girls series, following Charity, an eighteen year old girl in the year 2145, who goes back in time in an effort to change the way of life that everybody is subject to in her time. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell’s 1984 (of which there are slight references) it is a story that explores the idea that, especially with the growth of technology, that we will not necessarily be as free as we would all like, but in fact we would be controlled to keep peace and order. Another method in trying to create peace is also the idea of unifying religion for everyone.
“… there would be no Muslim, no Jew, no Christian, all their small differences would be absorbed into the One True Word, the One True God. This time the religions of the world would hammer out a plan, not just agree to respect one another – that never worked anyway.
There was one God, most could agree on that, this time the worship, the rules, the conduct would all be the same. And wars would end.”
Charity is a likeable and believable character. She is surprised to find an old lady speaking to her as her best friend did the previous day. Believing her friend had been killed, Charity is taken aback and in disbelief that this elderly woman lying in front of her could possibly be her friend. That is until the lady uses the same terminology her best friend did.
Charity had already been curious about the celebrations of The Great Convergence and Unification, especially with the riots. After questioning herself about what was happening outside the city, and hearing what her friend has to say about the past, Charity has to make it her mission to find out exactly what is going on and what had happened in the past that led to their current way of life.
Charity herself has a gut feeling that what she is doing needs to be done. She needs to find a way to travel back in time, as her friend had done, and try her utmost to change the future from the one she knows. After ducking out of her normal routine of going to the temple, she winds up getting caught by guards and eventually makes her way outside the perimeter of the city, and eventually back in time…
She finds herself in the late 20th century at the Duck and Screw bar. During her time in the past Charity manages to track down Knight Industries, the major tech company that control the future. She knows she must do something to change what will happen, but she is at a loss as to what to do.
Her purpose makes it difficult for her to trust people. Who would believe her story, and who would go as far to help her? However, she does meet up with Dranit, who she later becomes suspicious of, and then Matthew. Both of them clearly knew who Charity was, but were they trapping her for their own separate reasons?
I was hoping for Charity to find some romance with one of them, and although there were hints, it wasn’t clear who the main ‘love interest’ was, if at all. She becomes close to both of them as she spends her time with each one, but leading up to her departure she seems to think, on separate occasions, that either one could be against her and try to stop her.
Due to the confusion at times, I felt that reading Future Girls in first person would have been more beneficial to the reader. This way we would really get a true sense of exactly how Charity was feeling about the moment she was in, who she suspected most, and who she felt closest to.
Although many scenes are written brilliantly – there are some great action scenes, especially when she is being chased by bikers and shot at (yes, there is plenty of excitement and tension!) – I found Future Girls a little confusing at times and was desperate for the author to clear some points up, and to help the reader visualise (especially the futuristic moments regarding the Cloud that is used to control the population). Towards the end, however, a great deal is cleared up, but as the reader is waiting for some answers for so long, it makes it difficult to concentrate on the story in between. I am not quite sure how a Young Adult would follow the story easily. That said, the author has written well and it is clear that the author has spent time on the structure of her writing.
Future Girls is a good read, and with some more clarity could be great. The general idea of unifying the population, in the pretence that it will provide peace and order in the future is a fantastic idea. And, with the aid of technology, being able to control people with a virtual Cloud is interesting to explore, especially when some of us will ask questions and act upon our curiosity, meaning not everyone will conform, and thus posing a threat to those in power. I was certainly gripped enough to read the second book of the series, Future Gold.
FUTURE GOLD (The Future Girls #2)
What part of the past would you change?
Jordan didn’t want to travel back in time. She thought the members of the Time Cult were, frankly, a little whacked. But as the daughter of a daughter of a daughter, she had little choice but to prepare, take part, be knowledgeable and be ready to travel back in time. But nothing could prepare her for what happened. Or when.
After enjoying the fantasy of a young girl travelling back in time to change the future for the better, in Future Girl (book 1), I was happy to continue the series with Future Gold. Either book could be read as a stand alone, although the reader may grasp the futuristic elements of book 2 more easily if they are already familiar with the background from book 1.
Set further still in the future, Future Gold follows a different character in Jordan, than in Future Girls’ Charity, and this time Jordan goes back to the 19th century, the Wild West in 1861. I particularly love reading about this era, it’s rawness and desperation, crimes and outlaws, as well as the constructing of towns and communities.
As a Time Cult member, Jordan studies history, in particular Western history, but doesn’t prepare herself one hundred percent for her time travel experience, believing that a time to change the past, and thus the future, probably wouldn’t come about.
“…Their stated story, should anyone ask, was that they were a history group, a society for the study of the past. What was studying history if not a form of time travel?… She (Jordan) would spend the next ten years earning an advanced degree in her historic period of choice, just in case. What she believed was she would never need or use the information. She would spend ten good years pretending that when the time came, if the time came, she was prepared to make a difference.”
However, after regularly taking part in the Equinox and Solstice, this time unlike the others, something changed. Jordan found herself in a slightly confused state… back in time!
One of my favourite moments in the story was when I realised that the place Jordan found herself in initially was a bar called the Duck and Screw. This bar was featured in book 1, and therefore this connection, however small, and the fact that Jordan had gone back in time from a very surreal future, that kept the whole fantasy of the series flowing.
A little lost and confused, Jordan is taken in by a miner, Walter, and is invited to look after his children, Will and Emily, while he works. They spend time travelling to areas where they have been told there is a great deal of gold. Throughout the story there are a number of mines – some running out of gold, with workers losing their jobs, other mines with plenty of gold are being found, and there are the thieves who steal gold, leaving little for the workers thereafter. Knowing who to trust is even more difficult when times are so desperate for many.
Jordan has to keep up the pretence as one living in those times, whilst trying to become a little familiar with food, clothes, language, and general living that she simply has never experienced before. She pulls it off extremely well and seems to learn quickly, although being one to express her thoughts a little more freely, and especially being a woman, there are moments when she surprises some of her new acquaintances!
The story seemed to flow really well in this second book of the series, maybe it was because I had grasped the whole concept of what the author was trying to reach, and maybe because of the time it was set too. But I did feel the characters more as they stood out well, and the reader can grasp who are to be trusted more, as well as a possible love interest.
I found myself enjoying the scenes with Jordan and Frederick, longing for some romance to spark between them. Jordan has to be aware of everyone around her and not trust people too easily. And even though I questioned Frederick at times, even when I did this I still felt he was a strong, believable and likeable character.
The further the story continues, the more dramatic it becomes. and the action in the latter half is really good. It is written at just the right pace to keep you gripped and able to follow what is happening. You’ll certainly want to finish the story to see just what becomes of Jordan and what that means for all the characters involved.
Both books were provided as ARC’s by the author, in return for a fair and honest review.
Reviews by Caroline Barker