In 2157, a mysterious gas known as Variant spreads across the globe, killing or mutating most organic life. The surviving humans take refuge in an underground city, determined to return home. But after generations of failures and botched attempts, hope is beginning to dwindle. That is, until a young scientist makes a unique discovery, and everything changes. Suddenly, there's reason to hope again, and it rests within a group of genetically engineered children that are both human and Variant. Terry is one of these children, modified and trained to endure the harsh conditions of a planet he cannot begin to understand. After years of preparation, Terry thinks he knows what to expect. But the reality is far stranger than anything he can imagine - and what he will become is far more dangerous.
©2015 Jeff Chaney (P)2015 Jeff Chaney
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"Inventive and exciting"
An inventive post-apocalyptic world where humans are confined to living underground because the air on the Earths surface contains a toxic element called Variant. Variant either kills you or metamorphoses you into a violent bloodthirsty monster. Society has arranged it's self into 3 political elements, the Mothers (females who's job it is to procreate), the Scientists and the Military. In order for humanity to continue to survive they have to find a means to be able to live on the Earths surface once again. The three factions spend years experimenting to try to produce offspring that would be able to breath Variant and survive unscathed. They manage to produce a group of children they hope will be their future, but it is here that the three factions aims start to diverge and the story truly begins. The duel storylines in this book are expertly interwoven. One telling a thrilling story of survival, friendship, betrayal and loss, while the other shows us the political and social maneuverings occurring between the different factions. It is a well written and complex story with appealing characters and an original plot. The narrator manages to do a great job with the multiple characters in this audiobook. He makes it easy to follow the flipping back and forth in time and place, leaving you in no doubt what is info from the past and what is the up to date happenings. It is an enjoyable book that captures your imagination and leaves you wondering what will happen in the next in the series. I received this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.
"Good First Novel for Chaney"
As a post-apocalypse/dystopia fan, I enjoyed this author's first novel. The origin of the event that drove our characters underground isn't explained until the last third of the book, but the information was revealed in an organic fashion. Thankfully, a logical end point is provided with this story, but seeds were planted that piqued my curiosity about the next installment. However, I would like to see (or hear, in the case of an audiobook) the characters mature in their speech, reasoning, and inner dialogue. There's room for improvement where reading level difficulty is concerned, but overall it was a very enjoyable "listen".
The narrator speaks clearly, and offers distinct variations in voice for the different characters.
"Human mutants may save the species!"
This dystopian young adult novel is set in 2157 somewhere near the Atlantic coast. Terry and his classmates are growing up in an underground city. The surface of the planet became contaminated years ago by a mysterious and deadly gas named Variant. The city is slowly falling apart; the surface must be reclaimed! As such, a clever scientist has come up with a way to create Variant-tolerant humans. Terry and his classmates are the first generation of these new humans.
Take Ender’s Game and mash it up with The Handmaid’s Tale and you get something good, disturbing, and thought-provoking. This underground society was founded by survivors of a world calamity. As such, they put in place some hard and fast rules in order to keep humanity alive. The military and the Matron have the most power. Human reproduction is closely managed. The Matron is the head of the organization that provides reproducing women (the mothers) status and perks in housing and food. All reproductive assignations must be approved by the Matron. Meanwhile, the military has made attempts over the years to reclaim the surface. The new Variant humans are their latest attempt.
The story opens with Terry Eckles on his seventh birthday. His mom, Mara, drops him off at the Academy. There he learns that he won’t be allowed to go home for 10 years, after he graduates the Academy. John, who will become his best friend, is his roommate. May is the brains of the little group. Alex has anger management issues. The story moves ahead in chunks of time, so we get to see the kids grow up in the Academy. While this was interesting, I didn’t become very attached to the kids until they become teens and they start doing interesting things.
I really got hooked on the story when we start seeing how the city reproduction is controlled. Mara Eckles became a mother at 15 and has produced several promising children for the city. All her daughters have proven to be fertile reproducers as well. The Matron, Eva Long, is a formidable woman. She has to walk a difficult line between the survival of humanity and protecting the mothers from certain aspects of the military branch of power.
Then we have colonel James Bishop. He’s been a stalwart pillar of the Academy for decades, leading the training of the city’s military. Now he’s taken a personal interest in the new Variant humans. The author could have easily made Bishop an outright villain. However, I found myself sympathizing with him sometimes. After all, humanity might well be facing extinction if they don’t do something drastic. I really enjoyed that he was a complicated character and that I couldn’t outright despise him.
Dr. Henry Newbur is the main scientist and head teacher at the Academy. I pictured him as a man who is more comfortable around test tubes and dusty books. He’s also missing an arm, making him a source of mild gossip among the students. Dr. Archer is a complete 180 from Dr. Newbur. He’s very much into the science unlocked by the latest Variant discovery. To him, Terry and his classmates are specimens.
Taken all together, the book has a solid set up and then the action starts once the teens are sent to the surface. I don’t want to spoil things too much, as the teens don’t head to the surface until the second half of the book, but I really had fun with them exploring the now defunct buildings. There’s also things up there on the surface that the underground city folk are barely aware of, things that can rip the face off a grown, armed man. It’s a great start for a dystopian series.
The Narration: Alexander Edward Trefethen did a good job with this book. His voice is pretty masculine, so I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be able to pull off the female voices, but he did, though in a few instances the ladies would sound alike. I really liked his voice for Alex, who is always disgruntled about something. His old lady (and sometimes tipsy) voice for Matron Eva Long was also really good.
"That End Though"
Never been much of a dystopian fan, but i loved this one. Excellent story telling and adjectives. The narrator is much better when played at 1.1x speed. The ending! No spoilers, but there better be a sequel.
"One of my favorite dystopian stories!"
I was absolutely blown away by this story. Is this really his first published book?!--Such mature writing and great character development.
Civilization is forced underground due to the earth being taken over by toxic gas, but not just any gas, a new type of gas that that is beautiful and deadly. Science butts heads with maternal instincts, and a boy must take the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Not a slow or dull moment anywhere to be found in this! It's a wild ride that will leave you anxious to read the next installment!
"The Amber Project"
This audiobook has my attention from beginning to end. The author did a great job depicting a small population of people living in an underground bunker after the world collapsed.
"An ambitious project!"
J.N. Chaney introduces us to a world in ruin. Survivors of a cataclysm have lived in an underground bunker for two centuries, and are trying to find a way to continue doing so while also trying to keep the human race from dying out entirely. This is Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic, societal commentary, and political intrigue all rolled into one grand book.
What I really liked about this story was the slow world-building. You are introduced to much of on a "need to know" basis, meaning you didn't need to know about that until it was described. I'm not just describing the physical world of The Variant Saga, though, I also mean the socio-political landscape that is slowly introduced. Once described, this is a world that isn't too hard to imagine being truth in a couple of hundred years. Even the "info dumps" (where you learn about the universe through conversations between characters) are well handled, allowing you to draw a larger and larger picture of this poor, pitiful landscape. The characters are well thought out, consistent, and engaging.
The read by Mr. Trefethen was very well done. His pacing and pronunciation were exemplary, and minor modifications for characterizations were handled in a way that prevented any confusion as to who was saying what and when. This was a really good read.
In all fairness, I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. "Fair" is not how I would review this, though. This is a "Great" book with a "Great" read.
"Narrator needs to project more"
Good story, good narration which could use more consistent volume. all in all, very enjoyable.
"Jolt vs. Earthquake?"
New author JN Cheney literally shook everyone and everything up in his first contribution to the voracious Sci Fi market. I was quite amazed when his new author status was disclosed in the short bio after the end of Amber Project. I was ready to give my usual unvarnished opinion of the sheer brilliance of the author who had just given us a book that was so completely different in plot, presentation, and goals with unique characters that developed nicely and contributed so much to the book!And even though JNC left us wanting more, it wasn't accomplished by a cliff hanger that is blatantly contrived leaving the listener feeling a little manipulated. I admit that the last few months, I feel a "herd" syndrome has seized our top authors. The storylines are similar, the action, conflicts predictable, and it always boils down to a young hero taking the helm of his ship and after a series of at least four books, he and his now reformed crew SAVE THE WORLD BY THEMSELVES just in time to begin a new series which is just a continuation of the first book's! Thank you JN Chaney for being an original! I'm getting the next book as soon as I hit the submit key!
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction, post-apocalyptic and/or survival stories. This is a very unique and creative story. It wasn't predictable enough to be boring but definitely wasn't random enough to be unbelievable either. Very well put together! I love that we get the points of view from characters of all ages and backgrounds. I felt that Chaney's writing reflected the thoughts and opinions from the different characters very well depending on whose point of view that part of the story was taking place from. I love the development and growth of the characters that was shown as the children aged too. It was interesting to see this story through their eyes from such a young age to start off from and see how their childhood shaped their adolescent character.
The audiobook's narrator has a rather deep voice that got a bit gravely sounding at times, but overall his performance was quite good.
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