**DOUBLE REVIEW** Future Girls & Future Gold (The Future Girls #1 & #2) by Catharine Bramkamp

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 Book One of the The Future Girls Series

FUTURE GIRLS (The Future Girls #1)

Blurb:

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.

REVIEW

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 (Book Two of the The Future Girls Series)

FUTURE GOLD (The Future Girls #2)

Blurb:

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.

REVIEW

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.

Buy links:

Future Girls (The Future Girls #1) Amazon US, Amazon UK

Future Gold (The Future Girls #2) – Amazon US, Amazon UK

Reviews by Caroline Barker

*Release Day* Future Girls by Catharine Bramkamp

Half face closeup portrait of beautiful blond girl with peachy makeupEternal Press is proud to announce the publication of Future Girls!

 

Title: Future Girls
Author: Catharine Bramkamp
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Time Travel
Release Date: 1st December 2014
Publishers: Eternal Press

 

PRESS RELEASE
2145.  All work and world negotiations take place in virtual reality, call the Realty Cloud – run and organized by men. Charity Northquest knows that her future is set – marriage at 18, babies and the same struggle over dwindling resources that her mother faces daily.

 

But there is another way.  And Charity accidentally becomes one of the girls the women of the Time Cult send back in time.  Charity has only 100 hours in the past to make the right change that will create a better future.  Or she will stay in the past forever.

 

Future Girls is Handmaids Tale meets Back to the Future.  The action takes place in the “Past” – The SF Bay Area of 2045.  Charity travels from San Francisco as far as San Jose.  Her adventure begins in an old pub named the Duck and Screw.

 

SYNOPSIS
On October 10, 2145, 18 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 Charity’s 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 doesn’t believe in time travel, she has little choice but to trust and take the leap.The ill-prepared Charity is flung back to the mysterious and captivating  21st century where  her single purpose of  changing the future is clouded with the increasingly more urgent question, can she survive the past? here  her single purpose of  changing the future fades with the increasingly more urgent question, can she survive the past?

 

REVIEW QUOTES
“Charity is achingly believable. I liked her spunk. Future Girls
  was freaky, sad, terrifying, depressing, and captivating as hell.”
 – Beth Barany author of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer and Gargoyle: Three Enchanting Romance Novellas

 

“Wow, Catharine! Great story. I think you have a winner.”
 – Carol Collier author of Bohor and An Appalachian Summer

 

EXCERPT
Charity slipped into room 509 and closed the door quietly behind her.
            For a minute she thought the old woman was already dead.  The TV was turned up, the Preacher bellowing about the sanctity of marriage and the exalted position of Mothers in the Kingdom of the True God.  After they were dead.
            “It’s Charity,” she kept her voice as low as she could. “Now tell me what you know about Mirabella.”
            The woman smiled.  “You’re getting feisty, that’s good.”
            “Oh stop. Just tell me.” Charity’s urgency propelled her to the edge of the bed and she unconsciously picked up the woman’s good hand. It was blue veined and thin. The skin felt like the soft paper of an old book.
            “Okay, Go. The old university is the easiest place.  And go change this.” She rolled her eyes to indicate the whole the room, maybe the whole of the city.   “We don’t have to live like prisoners, we don’t have to just be mothers.”
            “But we’re protected, we’re safe, we have peace.”  Charity automatically protested.
            “Safe. Prisoners. Same.” The woman dismissed Charity’s reflexive response.  “Just go. I know this is hard and you don’t understand.  We aren’t told anything at all, never will, by the way, and there isn’t much time.  You remember Hannah Vandermere?  She did okay.  I haven’t heard about Mary or Honesty.  But you need to go back. You’ve read books, you’ll be able to cope.  Just try to get to the 21st century, not far.  The 19th isn’t where the change is.”
            “What are you talking about?”  Charity glanced back towards the hall, but it was still empty.
            The woman closed her eyes.  “Please, for me.  For Mirabella, if you will.  Go.” 
            A tingling ran up and down her arms and spread over her whole body.  Go where?  What did the old woman mean?  She glanced back at the sleeping woman and almost shook her awake. But in the space of a heartbeat, the old woman’s breathing had stopped. 

 

FROM THE AUTHOR
I agree with Madeleine L’Engle,  “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

 

I had been writing adult mystery novels and self-help for writers.  The Real Estate Diva Mystery series is doing well but sometimes you don’t know where your mind will take you. I started Future Girls during NaNoWriMo and began with the small idea: what if the future sucked?  And what if you could change it?  I love the film Back to the Future  that was part of the inspiration for Future Girls.

 

I also love books with strong female heroines.  When I was a young adult reader, books with a kick ass heroine were more difficult to find than they are today, that’s probably whey they are so cherished.  The not to subtle message of Future Girls is you can change the future, and it doesn’t need to be a big war, or a small dragon. Change can come from inserting a different idea, showing one person a different way to see things.  In the Future Girls series,  women work to change the future, because historically women often have much more to change, we have more at risk.  It is said that children are our future, but that attitude seems too passive for me, at the very least, too passive for a novel.

 

I started this book two years ago as a NaNoWriMo project and met the publishers for Damnation and Eternal Press at a local book festival.  I glanced down at their book display and said,  hey, I think my book would fit into your collection.  I sent them Future Girls and they accepted it.  Publishing with a small publisher is great, but it is a slower process if you are accustomed to publishing your own work.  But in the end I was quite happy with the results.

 

The second book in the Future Girls series is Future Gold, set in the Gold Country in 1861.  And I am working on the third book, Future Run,  a weird Mad Max- like road trip across the western states.

 

AUTHOR BIO
Catharine Bramkamp is a writing coach and podcaster specializing in Newbie Writers. She is the author of hundreds of articles and a dozen books including The Real Estate Diva Mystery series, two essays in the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, Don’t Write Like You Talk and the poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise.
She holds two degrees in English, and is an adjunct university professor of English and writing.
She lives with her husband, Andrew Hutchins in Sonoma County and Nevada County, California.

 

 

PURCHASE LINKS