Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Marissa Shrock's The First Principle ~ Reviewed

By Marissa Shrock
Published by Kregel Publications
Release Date: January, 2015
Pages: 237
ISBN: 978-0-8254-4357-2

About the book:

In the not-too-distant future, the United Regions of America has formed. Governors hold territories instead of states, and while Washington, DC, is gone, the government has more control than ever before. For fifteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins, the daughter of a governor, this is life as usual. High school seems pretty much the same--until one day, that controlling power steps right through the door during study hall.
When Vivica speaks out to defend her pregnant friend against the harsh treatment of Population Management Officer Marina Ward, she has no idea she's sowing the seeds of a revolution in her own life. But it isn't long before she discovers her own illegal pregnancy. Now she has to decide whether to get the mandatory abortion--or follow her heart, try to keep the baby, and possibly ruin her mother's chances at becoming president.
A rebel group called the Emancipation Warriors, who are fighting to restore freedoms once held unalienable, offer her asylum. Can Vivica trust these rebels to help her or will they bring everything crashing down around her? Accepting their help may come with consequences she isn't ready to face.
Marissa Shrock's debut novel crafts a chilling story of what may be to come if we allow the economic and moral crises currently facing our country to change the foundations on which we built our independence--and of the difference one person can make when they choose to trust God's lead.


I should read young adult novels more often. YA authors tend to be crazy-talented. They have to be, because most youth won’t waste their time reading otherwise. In The First Principle, Marissa Shrock gave credence to my point. Consider her first sentence:

The biggest rebellions begin with the smallest steps, and I took my first small step one December morning during study hall.

If I were a teen, that statement alone would capture my attention as I suspect every adolescent has a rebel lurking within. As they should, to some extent, or society would never change. We’d still be listening to Gregorian Chants and wearing corsets. Because sometimes to do what’s right, one must stand up against what’s wrong, and often our youth are the few with the courage to do so.

In that vein, Marissa Shrock is a talented author who challenged me to think outside the box while simultaneously encouraging me to evaluate my culture on a deeper level.

Though completely different than the Hunger Games in almost every way, this novel reminded me of the underlying thread presented in that best-selling series: Children, well, in this case, teens, controlled by adults. Adults the teens weren’t entirely sure they could trust. In that regard, I felt Marissa captured the struggle many of today’s teens face—that of wanting independence; of seeing societal rules, laws and customs as confining yet wanting to conform.

I empathized with and admired Vivica, the usually obedient and political correct heroine. As the daughter of a politician, she’s been raised to believe many of the rules of her time—the banning of unapproved Bibles, mandatory pregnancy tests and vaccines, and forced abortions, are for the good of all. Until a personal problem causes her to reevaluate everything she knows. For much of the novel, she wrestles with this uncertainty and the emotional angst that comes with it, because for her, changing beliefs means much more than pushing back against societal expectations. It could destroy her relationship with her mother. And maybe cost her her life.

This was a great book, authentically told, and literally kept me up well past my bedtime on numerous nights. I found the conversations between the teens in novel very true to life, and I loved how Marissa resolved the issues presented and the story. I will definitely be looking out for more Shrock novels, and I plan to tell the teens I know about her as well.  

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

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