Gold Medal Winner: 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Teenager Category Indie BRAG Medallion Winner Honorable Mention: 2015 Reader’s Favorites Book Awards, Teenager Category
Join or Fight. Escape or Die. Love now. Lose Forever. A heartrending, dystopian tale of choices and control from the multi-award winning science fiction author of Under The Shadow Of Darkness. In a dark future, Jessia and Isaias, two pleb teenagers scraping a living by selling scrap out of the dump, want to program, become citizens and escape the fetid slum lanes of Community 17. But if they don’t both make it, they will be eternally separated. Can Jessia share her feelings with Isaias and risk their friendship? Can she allow herself to love a man that might remain a pleb forever? Can he? Living in Community 17, Isaias is exposed to a constant push-pull struggle. He wants to escape the fetid slum lanes by becoming a citizen—if he can only pass programming. He has a dream: a small home in the city, married to Jessia, surrounded by his children at his knees. Is that life even in his grasp? A dystopian tale that sizzles, sparkles and pops with energy, ingenuity, imagination, and a wonderfully heightened sense of adventure. You won’t want to put it down until the dramatic ending. In Community 17, all is not what it seems. Woe to any pleb found associating with the free thinkers for those taken to harmonization are never seen again. The free thinkers desire to upend society and stop the foul and inhumane treatment of plebs by alerting citizens to their plight through violent insurrection. They engage Isaias to that aim. The reward for successfully carrying out a mission is Shambala, a place where one can think freely. But is Shambala the paradise every pleb says it is? A tale of a controlling society and the fatal choice to join it or fight against its atrocities, Community 17 is sure to delight fans of dystopian, romance drama.
James Cardona received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Delaware with a minor in Religious Studies. He enjoys all things creative including the typical things such as drawing, painting, music and creative writing; and the not-so-typical such as building robots and writing computer code. James has written five books and is planning on writing many, many more. He also loves tinkering with computers, electronics and building robots and is a mentor for FIRST Robotics FRC Team 316. James also helps organize and run the PSEG Salem County Math Showcase which he created back in the year 2000, a math competition for students from grades four through eight, typically attended each year by approximately 500-600 students. He lives in Southern New Jersey and works as a Senior Test Engineer for the Laboratory and Testing Services group of Public Service Electric and Gas company. H
This is realistic feeling sci-fi that takes place in a post-apoloclyptic dystopian world where outcasts or "plebs" live in communities. Isaias is a strong and inherently good character who is stuck trying to sift through layers of issues and problems. He's trying to study for a test in the hope that it will help him become a citizen of the city and leave the slums. His friends are blowing themselves up with bombs, though they say they're against doing that. Is there someone benefiting from all these suicide bombings? Is there a way he can help his mother and/or improve his world? Underneath these levels of intrigue is a really sweet love story that adds a much needed soft element to this story. The writing style, language and romance are all age appropriate for YA and teens and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes sci-fi and dystopian novels. I definitely wouldn't go so far as to call this book a romance, but as I said, it's a nice bonus.
I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
I have to say right off the bat that I have enjoyed every one of the books I have read from Mr. Cardona. I believe he is an up and coming star on the book scene and he is talented in many genres. I received the e-book for this one and literally gobbled it up; in fact he sent me a slightly revised copy also and so I read that one as well to compare. I see a lot of potential in this book to become a series of books. I preferred the ending to the first copy more than the revised one because I felt it baited the reader more to want there to be a continuation to the story. Mr. Cardona said that he had gotten feed back that the ending was too violent for young readers, but I think that it is no less violent than other books I have read in this genre. As with all his books I was impressed with his characterization and story building! I would recommend this book to all fantasy and Sci-Fi lovers. I found this story to be very believable and hope that there will definitely be other books to follow making this into a series. There are little surprise twists inside that kept it very interesting! Once I started to read it I knew I would have to finish it in one sitting because I couldn't set it down for a minute without the story spinning constantly through my head. If you have not read any of Mr. Cardona's books you are truly missing out and this is as good of a book to start with as any of his are! I highly recommend readers to find a copy of this book to read. For those who love futuristic books this is one you should not miss; in fact I would recommend that you email Mr. Cardona so you can get a copy of the first one with the great ending!!! Happy Reading and a great big Thank You to James Cardona for entrusting me with his words!
Interesting. Engaging. A thriller at points. The romantic sub-plot is tastefully and beautifully written. It brings innocence and hope to an otherwise dank, dreary world where a stringent government has imposed such oppression on the outcasts of its society that their lives of filth and fear are no longer worth living. On a sidenote, but a very important one for me with teen fiction, the love story, language, and plot elements stay clean throughout. As for the story line, it blends current crises we see in our own world problems with restructured culture and politics that Cardona weaves into his imagined futuristic dystopian, post-apocalyptic society. Yes, there are similarities to The Hunger Games, which concerned me at first, but I found that the similarities are superficial--the core plot, as it unfolds, takes on a much different course and tone. On a superficial level, the "Communities" could well be called "Districts" but Community 17 spends more time acquainting the reader with the monotony and frustration the the outcasts or "plebs" experience in their daily lives, leading to critical choices of destiny that take place within their communities rather than in a high-tech sports arena with flashy weapons and fantastical monsters. It is more of a delving into the heart and mind, mystery, psychology, and intrigue that goes into peeling off the skin of a twisted, subversive society with layer upon layer of deceit and treachery. Even among the plebs--dissension, distrust, and deceit blur the lines between victim and villain. Intrigue builds throughout and kept me guessing to the last page. The story certainly has the reader guessing who the real enemy is. Don't assume anything. You may be surprised.
If you like Dystopian societies and tales about life after a massive world change, If you enjoy books that make you think, I strongly recommend that you read this novel. The main characters are young adults, the children of the disadvantaged society, called plebs, the population without rights. They are being programmed, trained to think like citizens of the accepted society. Another kind of training is happening in pleb society. The "Free Thinkers" are the dissatisfied, angry population willing to fight for a better way of life. If discovered, they are violently removed by The Agency and their homes destroyed, family members also endangered or "harmonized." The characters are well written and easy to relate to. The community setting described so clearly you'll be holding your nose at times. The plot comes across as quite plausible, with some suspension of disbelief and a bit of creative imagination. If you have read any of James Cardona's work before, you know he makes the reader pay attention and decide for himself who are the good people and who is trustworthy. It quite often is hard to decipher and your opinion may change as details are revealed. The story unfolds at a good pace with an ending that you will continue to contemplate.
I did get a copy of this book from the author but all opinions expressed are my own.
In this story, Isaias is a strong young man who finds himself unwittingly in the opposing camp of the elite where he must use his own wits and intelligence to survive and discover the truth about the split society he lives in. Isaias is in love with Jessia - who is unobtainable and remote. However, there are strong and magnetic moments between them and their attraction and the circumstances which keep them apart are excellently portrayed. This is one of the highlight of the book.
The other highlight was the opening which I loved. I was glued to the page and was thinking I'd rate this maybe 5 stars if it continued like that. However, the excellent pacing, tension and virtuosity of this author did (unfortunately) sag after a while and the story got a bit bogged down in the middle sections. Even so, this was a good read and has elements in it of great writing.
This is a chilling story in the best tradition of SF, which distorts the world we live in just enough to emphasize its horrors. A must read!
I was given a review copy and was thoroughly impressed by the power of this book, which takes you deep into the head of a young pacifist as he struggles to make sense of this world where nothing is as it seems. If he studies hard and passes all his tests, will he become a citizen of the city and escape the slum in which he lives outside its walls? Then will he be able to help the people who are left in the slums? Why do his friends who say they don’t approve of suicide bombing keep blowing themselves up? If he carries a bomb himself, will his mother be able to live in Shambala, which is supposed to be a paradise? Is there anything he can do to make this a better world? Who really benefits from all the killing?
James Cardona SJI (2015) ISBN 9781943696000 Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (01/16)
“Community 17” by James Cardona is an intense novel that takes readers deep into the degradation and control of a dystopian society. Isaias, a teenager and a pleb, dreams of escaping the slums of his community. In his dreams, he marries Jessia and lives in a small home in the city, surrounding by their children. To achieve these dreams Isaias must do well in his studies and pass the programming exams given by the Agency. Only after passing these exams will he be granted citizenship of the city. Failure to pass the exams will resign him to the hopeless life of a pleb, full of disgrace, humiliation, poverty, and struggle, without Jessia.
Isaias’ dreams are disrupted one day when one of his friends, Edra, blows herself up just outside the checkpoint gates of the city. Isaias finds it hard to believe that Edra would involve herself willingly in the fight of the free thinkers, a group whose mission is to overturn the Agency, and stop the inhumane treatment of plebs.
Everyone associated with Edra will be questioned by the Agency men in the hunt for the free thinkers, and many of those interrogated will never return. Isaias soon finds himself as a pawn, caught between the free thinkers and Agency insiders. Nothing is as it seems. Isaias’ only desire now is survival, as his long sought after dreams seem to be mere hallucinations of the boy he used to be.
This book caused my spine to tingle with the very first sentence and the intensity of the storyline kept it tingling through to the very last page! The author has a natural story-telling gift and I thoroughly enjoyed his engaging writing style. Some of the characters will enrage you, while others will tug at your heartstrings; all of them will evoke emotions that will leave imprints in your mind long after you put down the book.
I highly recommend “Community 17” by James Cardona. While the story will appeal to a wide audience, it may be appreciated most by young adults. It is full of action-packed drama, heightened suspense, and young romance, all in the middle of trying to save the world from a dystopian society. Great read!
Community 17 by James Cordona is a young adult dystopian novella which follows the main character, Isaias, who aspires to free himself from the slums of Community 17. The mystery of Community 17 unfolds one chapter at a time, revealing enough information to keep me interested in what would happen next. The writing style also allows for fast reading, which I liked as I am often time poor and enjoy a story with plenty of action. There is a romantic relationship underlying the main plot, between Isaias and Jessia , which may be intriguing for some readers and provides a respite from the Community 17 dystopia.
In Community 17, the 'Agency' suppresses any citizen who dares to think freely. Citizens who do think freely are never seen again. And that is what I found most interesting; the state suppressing the will of an individual. The reader is left questioning how much control a bureaucratic body should have over our lives. Community 17 is more than a novella, it is a satirical tale which has reflections of our own society and the struggle, and triumphs, faced by those at the bottom of the social ladder. If you are after a novella which is a quick and satisfying read then you will enjoy Community 17 by James Cordona.
I received a free copy of the advance version of this book in exchange for an honest review. In fact, the author kindly shared a later, revised version as well.
I usually am not a fan of dystopian literature. I like optimistic, happy endings, but the truth is that the world is not always the pretty place I'd like to live in. This novel explores some current issues our world is grappling with: terrorism, what motivates people to participate in it, and how others fight it.
The main character is a teen who lives in a squalid area outside the walls of a pristine city. He wants to change things, but not through terrorism, and the tension builds as he confronts the "establishment" on the one hand, and the people of his own community on the other.
A fascinating, engaging read, and a book that would spark some interesting classroom discussions about society, activism, and current political situations such as the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.
This is yet another masterpiece from the author of Under The Shadow Of Darkness. The book was so engaging that I red it in one sitting. Jessia and Isaias sell scrap for living and want to escape the slum lanes of Community 17. But it's not as easy as it sounds. The dreams can inspire but can't necessary become a reality. In this dystopian tale that sends waves in your spine, James Cardona yet again proves his reputation as a great storyteller. It's highly recommended to the readers of dystopian literature.
Intense novel of a young man caught in a world of starkly different societies
There are citizens and there are plebs. One young man is striving to become a citizen through testing and programming, the only way to get out of Communiy 17. He comes to the attention of the Agency, a militant force of the city as well as the Free Thinkers, a rebel group of plebs. Both want to use him. Who does he trust?
Community 17 is the first book I’ve read from award-winning author James Cardona. Due to his accolades, I went into reading this book with high expectations. Although, there were a few things I took issue with, overall, there is no denying that this book has something important to say and does it convincingly.
This story revolves around a downtrodden teenager named Isaias. It’s not enough that he faces the same growing pains that any adolescent male does during this very difficult and transitional phase of his life, but he has to cope with living under an oppressive regime that treats the underprivileged members of their society like unwanted trash. You see, Isais is a pleb, living in a dirt-ridden, shanty town filled with crime, poverty, refuse, and despair. Plebs are forced to live outside the walls of the city where, in contrast, the citizens live in peace and safety. They, unlike the citizens, are the unwashed masses who have no future except to spend their days living in misery scavenging trash and robbing each other just to survive. Worse, the government watches their every move, ready to bring down an iron fist on anyone who breaks their rules, adding to the plebs’ seemingly inexhaustible laundry list of woes.
Isaias is one of the few kids from his town who has been given the chance to become a citizen. All he has to do is pass the tests that will allow him to ascend to a better life. But a sudden act of terrorism upsets his universe, threatening not only his future to become a citizen, but his very life as well. Isais must fight to make sense of the powerful forces moving against him and the people he loves, unaware of a grand conspiracy to destroy Isais and condemn the plebs to an even bleaker future.
I found Community 17 to be a thought-provoking and cautionary tale dealing with a very timely subject. The world in which Isais lives mirrors ours in many ways. A world where the elites use the citizenry as pawns in their never ending pursuit of power. The totalitarian authority that govern the plebs in Isais’ world is as brutally oppressive as one would expect. But this story subtly portends an even darker future where the convergence of power within the hands of the government, media, and big business may one day result in the complete and inevitable loss of human rights where citizens live to become disposable wards of the state.
Aside from the theme, plot, and characters, one of my favorite elements of Community 17 is the blossoming romance between Isias’ and Jessia. It’s rare for a romantic storyline to really engross me, but I truly enjoyed watching them go from being friends to lovers. It was very convincing and exciting to read about.
My biggest complaint about this book would have to be the editing. I didn’t enjoy having the flow of my reading interrupted to have to stop to figure out what a particular sentence or passage was trying to say. There were a few misspellings. But more often than not, the wrong word was used, such as “true” instead of “true”, which served to break the spell the narrative wielded.
Most egregiously, was the unconventional use of quotation marks with internal monologue instead of italics. As a result, I sometimes didn’t know when the characters were speaking aloud or to themselves, or even to whom they were speaking with. I wish the author hadn’t taken such liberties with the text, because it’s confusing and hurts the readability of the story. This is frustrating especially since it’s an otherwise well-told story that engages you right from the start.
If it wasn’t for the problems with the editing, this book might have scored higher with me. Still I would definitely recommend this story to fans of dystopian fiction as well as those who like a book to make you think as well as feel.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
This is a dystopian YA novel set in a slum called Community 17 after an unspecified holocaust. The main character, Isaias and his love interest, Jessia, both high school age, live in a rat-infested slum of shacks and decaying sewage. They attend school run by the Agency, dubbed Programming, so they can pass their tests and become citizens. Citizens are purported to live in better circumstances, although we don’t see them. The plebs in the slum are subject to constant surveillance, a la 1984. Some hope to escape to the more normal environment while others dream of escaping to a rumored place of peace and plenty called Shambala. They believe they are better off in the slums than the dreaded Wasteland outside.
The various groups in this society are called citizens, plebs and Freethinkers and for much of the book, Isaias is not certain who he can trust or who belongs to what group. Except for his childhood friend, Jessia, and his mother and neighbors, much about his environment mystifies him.
The plebs are desperate enough to blow up checkpoints with explosives strapped to their bodies, and Isais encounters a series of episodes violent enough to kill him, but he manages to survive each one. In this environment, nothing is as it seems. No one can be trusted, and Isaias’ picture of what is going on changes frequently.
This is a fast-paced book that at times seems to go in circles. Isaias and Jessia’s romance is resolved about midway through, but the danger continues as the plot twists and turns. The two young people are likeable but not compelling enough for me, and even though the writing was competent and the plot moved along, the inner journey of these characters was not enough to keep me interested. The ending was unusual, but not surprising given what went before.
I am not a big fan of dystopian fiction, but for those who enjoy this genre, they might very well find this a satisfying read.
Growing up in the slums of dystopia, Isaias has two choices: 1. Strive to pass all the tests and make it into the "utopia" (just on the other side of the barrier, but where contrary opinions aren't tolerated); or 2. join the "Free Thinkers" who have somehow inherited the ancient 21st century custom of using a bomb vest to get your point across. Things aren't fair, and Isaias knows it. His only chance for happiness is to stay in school and possibly become a citizen, hopefully along with his very good friend, Jessia. Maybe, from the other side, they can work for change. But why is it that everyone who's made it so far has never been heard from again?
Also, the choice of who's to walk in wearing a bomb vest isn't entirely up to the candidate.
The narrative takes us from a bomb blast, into a medical unit where operatives of "The Ageny" play with his mind, to secret meetings of "The Freethinkers", through underground tunnels, more bomb blasts; realising along the way what's really what. Also along the way, he and Jessia realise they're in love, but the hope of them both passing the exam and sharing a life together inside becomes increasingly elusive.
There was a lot to keep me glued to the pages. Just a few things did seem a bit beyond belief, such as Isaias ability to fight and outsmart Agency soldiers after emerging, sick, from the underground tunnels.
But the premise of what's REALLY what is quite ingenious.
This book was entered and was a GOLD MEDAL WINNER in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. This is what our readers thought:
Title: Community 17 Author: James Cardona Star Rating: 5 Stars Number of Readers: 28 Stats Of the 28 readers: Editing 10/10 Style 9/10 Cover 10/10 Plot 10/10 Total 39/40 28 would read another book by this author. 20 thought the plot was the best part of the book. 5 thought the characters were the best. 3 thought the setting was the best part 26 thought the cover was good or excellent. 28 though the author was a good writer.
Readers’ Comments ‘This is a fantastic story. Dark, with interesting characters. I loved every minute of it.’ Boy, aged 14 ‘This book reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games. Community 17 is well described and the battle to have a better life was enthralling.’ Girl, aged 16 ‘I liked this story very much. The start grabbed me and there was never a dull moment. I liked the cover and blurb too. The world they lived in felt very gritty and dirty and the characters, particularly Isaias, was a brilliant hero.’ Boy, aged 15 ‘Best book in the awards.’ Girl, aged 14 ‘Scary with so much happening. The style of writing was easy to follow and I liked the ending too.’ Boy, aged 14
‘A fascinating plot set in a fascinating world. A GOLD medal winner and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards
James Cardona has written a brilliant dystopian society where we follow a young man, Isaias, who lives in the slums of Community 17. He dreams of having his own home and having children with a young girl named Jessia. In order to do this he needs to get out of the slums and his only way out is passing a series of exams that are given by a group called the Agency. His goal is interrupted when a friend, Edra, decides to blow herself up outside the gates of the city. Edra belongs to a group of people who are fighting against the Agency. Now, anyone who was associated to Edra is being hunted and unfortunately Isaias finds himself in the middle of the chaos. Her action starts a sci-fi filled adventure where Isaias is caught in the middle of a war to fight oppression. In the midst of this fight between the citizens and the plebs, Isaias needs to find a way to get out of the poverty and despair he lives in and find his happiness with his love, Jessia. This story truly captivated me and wrapped me in this dark, 1984esque world. I loves that James Cardona implemented true to life society issues in his story, it was heartfelt and a complete riveting read. I highly recommend this book to all you sci-fi lovers out there.
This book sucks you in and doesn't let go! Original, well written, great characters, pacing, and plot. I raced through this book and look forward to reading more from this talented author. Entertaining read well worth the time! I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a review.