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For four hundred years, the Church has led the remnants of humanity as they struggle for survival in the last inhabited city. Echo Hunter 367 is exactly what the Church created her to be: loyal, obedient, lethal. A clone who shouldn’t care about anything but her duty. Who shouldn’t be able to.

When rebellious citizens challenge the Church’s authority, it is Echo’s duty to hunt them down before civil war can tumble the city back into the dark. But Echo hides a deadly secret: doubt. And when Echo’s mission leads her to Lia, a rebel leader who has a secret of her own, Echo is forced to face that doubt. For Lia holds the key to the city’s survival, and Echo must choose between the woman she loves and the purpose she was born to fulfill.

400 pages, ebook

First published March 15, 2016

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About the author

Stacey Berg

4 books34 followers
Stacey Berg is a medical researcher who writes speculative fiction. Her work as a physician-scientist provides the inspiration for many of her stories. She lives with her wife in Houston and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. When she’s not writing, she practices kung fu and runs half marathons.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,566 reviews8,220 followers
July 28, 2017

It is not always easy to say why some books spark our interest, is it? In retrospect, I'm not actually clear on why I added this book to my list, and even less so why I bought it. I know a quartet of reviews from friends at SpecFic drew my attention to it, and a Kindle sale undoubtedly made it an easier choice. I think it is the lure of the elusive strong female character, a woman with determination and discipline coupled with my fondness for the post-apocolypse genre that sucked me in.

I normally do a brief summary in my reviews because my memory is so unreliable, but I think this is one of those books that is unique enough to need no triggers. How to describe it? The set-up reminded me of the tv show Dark Angel



crossed with the setting and world-building of A Canticle for Leibowitz.


The blurb hints at a romance, but it isn't a romantic book about two people meeting, falling in love, yada yada, and if you expect that, you'll be disappointed. It's mostly one of those journeys of self-discovery for a kick-ass woman in a fast-moving plot.

"If she pinned his hand against the jamb it would be a simple matter to snap his elbow with a quick strike. The temptation was so shocking that it froze her in place. Loro saw her hesitate and misunderstood. 'Good.'"

Berg did an amazing job, really. She drew me in with the setting, locked me in with the character and kept the action and plotting moving with the potential seeds of social--and perhaps personal--revolution. That it dovetailed with discovery, self-reliance and perhaps, love, was surprising. By the end, I think the reader knows what is inevitable, but it is no less moving for that.

"The cityens who were left were like the scavengers in the desert, crawling among the ruins with no thought of what had been lost and no goal greater than the day's necessities. Only the Church remembered, and dreamed to make men more than they once were."

In some ways, it reminded me a little--and just a little--of the Kate Daniels books in that there is a nice balance of character-building and plotting with a lead character that is forced into situations where she has to think things through instead of merely complete missions. A lot of the world-building is implied, built by the reader in bits and pieces. Personally, I've always loved the more organic approach of world-building (who thinks about where they live every day in a clear, descriptive fashion?), and I found that while much of it clarified, I'm still left with a lingering sense of curiosity (as is Echo, I think).

Overall, very well written. It's also worth noting that there is a nice sense of ethical complexity to it, as it would have been easy to vilify one side or another. Berg has made it to my 'authors to watch' list.

Four and a half stars, because it's been rare lately that I can't put a book down.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews228 followers
October 30, 2017
A clone warrior asks too many questions of the leadership of the last city.

Echo Hunter 367 is called that because she's the fifth member 'E' of batch 367 of genetically enhanced clones filling the role of Hunter for the bizarre Church that she serves. They have a priest-class who are genetic engineers and technologists, and nuns who carry the clones and raise them, and a Saint who's the critical living mind that interfaces with the computers that run the last city on Earth.

It's grim and dark dystopia, particularly as the Church seems beyond sinister, despite its stated goals. It's also pretty clear that the stakes couldn't be higher in terms of what happens if either the Church or the City fail as this is the last known enclave of humanity.

You get great insight into both how the Church works as well as how the City works with Echo spending lots of time in both. The romance when it eventually comes is low-key and almost an afterthought, but so critical to Echo's character, illuminating both past actions and present.

This is an excellent book with some terrific world-building. I can't help but feel that a single change in this society, letting city people visit the nuns that they give up, would make much of the plot irrelevant. That being said, the Church is hardly a warm fuzzy organization and it makes sense that its leadership would ignore the human factor. Even Echo, raised in the Church, has no concept that people would miss their sisters and daughters when they're taken to be nuns.

I would not hesitate to recommend this. Echo is compelling and the world-building is superb.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,155 reviews311 followers
June 13, 2016
We are made to serve.

In this post-apocalyptic tale Echo Hunter 367 is fifth in clone batch 367, bred to be a strong lethal warrior, with unquestioning loyalty to the Church. The Church is not so much a religious organization as it is an organization of totalitarian governance, originally formed to protect the straggling remnants of humanity living the City. There is some limited technology, which is controlled by the Church, and things have not changed all that much for the last 400 years.

Echo struggles because she doubts herself, and to doubt herself is to doubt the entire system that made her. Not only is doubt considered blasphemous, worse, it is a sign that she is unsound and that her copy has strayed too far from true. It is reason for her to be put down. However, it is clearly a time of instability for the Church and the City, and the story revolves around Echo as she navigates through what looks to be a slow, yet inevitable collapse of the system. It is only when she meets a healer named Lia that Echo starts to feel something other than doubt in her heart.

The characters and their development are key to the story here, and while the romantic sub-plot is very low key and not the main focus of the story, it is still incredibly important to it. The pacing is steady, only building up speed near the end. There is a certain spareness in the writing that suits the general lack of excess in the post-apocalyptic setting. It is an amazingly well executed book largely because of how restrained it is.

I would definitely recommend this one, particularly if you like post-apocalyptic fiction of any kind.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,766 reviews207 followers
August 23, 2017
Echo Hunter is scary, totally brainwashed by the Church to do all sorts of unpleasant things, and is also conflicted but not all that aware of how conflicted she is as a Church enforcer/security/investigator. Her tangled feelings get all the more so when she meets Lia, the doctor for the near-ish habitation "helped" by the Church. Echo falls for Lia, who cares a lot for the other cityens (inhabitants), and Echo is roped into helping with the constant stream of inhabitants' injuries and ills. All the while she is investigating the Church's concerns that the cityens are getting uppity and trying to become more independent, and are no longer willing to surrender some of their daughters to the Church.

How do you say you liked a dystopian book? There's a nice level of messed up leaders and systems, with women's bodies unsurprisingly being used by the Church. The difference was the women weren't just seen or treated as mindless breeders. In fact, there's a good variation in character and ability across all the female characters, and they're talking to each other and doing things and supporting one another, and no one denigrates them for being female. How refreshing and wonderful!
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews131 followers
June 9, 2016
4.5, I think. Hugely enjoyable, tightly wound post-apocalyptic novel. In some ways there are more questions than answers in this one, something that normally drives me a little crazy, but I loved Echo so much that it hardly mattered.
Profile Image for Mandi.
2,306 reviews724 followers
March 21, 2016
Four hundred years before the start of this book, the world fell. Humanity was almost lost - as everything was wiped out. But humans did survive, and now four hundred years later, they are truly making a comeback, thanks to the Church and the Saint. The Church has scoured through debris and rubble to find documents, technology, data - to try to save the human race. The technology we know of today, was lost in the fall, so humans have been finding pieces of equipment, or text that explains some tech, but it's not always easy to replicate or know how to use technology. The Church saved the humans by creating what is called the Saint. A woman, who ascends to save humans. Her body lays in the church, wired to machines....it's hard to explain, but you basically have to read the book to understand what the Saint does. This is where the Sci-Fi part of the story comes in.

The altar rose in the center of the sanctuary, surrounded by the panels and stations the priests tended. Lights played across the screens in patterns unreadable to a hunter, the priests' fingers tapping responses with swift precision. Upon the altar lay the Saint. A glittering crown of copper connected her to the machines that preserved the remains of the city, maintaining the forcewall that blocked the wilderness out, the generators that gave the cityens a bit of light in the darkness and heat to keep them from freezing to death in the winter, and more important, powered the crypts where the priests did their work to keep the Church itself alive; for only the Church could preserve what was left of the world. That was the central truth of all life in the four hundred annuals since the Fall: without the Saint, the Church would die; without the Church, the city.

Our main heroine is named Echo. She is a hunter - a cloned human who the church breeds to keep peace. The hunters are like the Church's soldiers. Every year, there is a tithe, where the Church takes some daughters, who then become breeders for these clones. Now that the citizens are gaining numbers and can feed themselves on their own, less dependent on the Church, they are getting angry the Church takes some of the female children. They want it to stop - and a rebellion is slowly forming. When Echo starts to doubt some of the Church's actions, she gets banished to the desert --where she eventually ends up in town and befriends a medic, named Lia. Lia is very well-respected, and essential to keep the towns-people safe. They form a close friendship, as Echo learns more and more of the rebellion.

This is such a creative and interesting world. It would take me forever to explain it, so just read the book darn it and find out! I love a dystopian setting - and throw in the Church, who has this Saint that is supposed to be all-knowing and a healer, and have a plan in place - and it just engaged me so much. Echo gets very frustrated with the Church, as things start to happen that get brushed under a rug. Echo is raised to not question the Church's actions, so when she finds the courage to do so, she gets kicked out. What I love is that - even though she knows things are happening in the Church that aren't right, it's so ingrained in her to see the Church as the savior of everything, she can't let go completely. She uses her time in the desert to gather facts about the rebellion, in hopes the Church will eventually call on her again to report back.

I love that too much time has passed for humans to remember how to use certain technology - how desperate they are to find old text within the rubble. Desperation for knowledge on how to survive.

She imagined the forefathers in the last spasms of the catastrophe they knew was upon them, scrambling to leave a legacy, trying to prevent their accumulated knowledge from hemorrhaging away into the dark. They must have known the hopelessness of the attempt even as they made it. She admired their doggedness, little good though it had done.

Yet every now and then she came across a fragment of unmistakable value, a bit on the diagnosis of disease or treatment of an injury.

Throughout the book you question the Church - are they just power hungry or do they truly have a plan to save the human race? The hunters the clone and create can be so violent and their actions against the citizens outside of the Church wall are not always fair or pleasant. There is so much gray area that I just couldn't put the book down until all the mysteries were solved.

Echo is fierce, but with a very warm and big heart - something that might differ a bit from the other clones. I love that they were technologically challenged. The world is rustic in a way, yet the Church has this power with the Saint.

My one complaint, is that the romance in this book is too low-key. Billed as a F/F, Echo and Lia fall in love, but they seem more like best friends than lovers. I really wanted their romance to come to the forefront - and instead it was faint. Also, and I feel like I've said this a lot lately, there is not a HEA at the end of this book. But I still recommend this - the world is excellent. Echo is a great heroine and there are some really good twists and turns in this book.

Grade: B
Profile Image for SmartBitches.
491 reviews630 followers
June 1, 2016
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Dissension isn’t what I expected, but it sure is good. This dystopian novel has a romance in it, but it’s not a romance novel, per se, and the ending is bittersweet at best. Those looking for a happy love story will be disappointed, but those interested in a character-driven, solid, bittersweet science fiction story will be more than satisfied.

This story has good world-building and good dystopian premise (it made me think of a considerably less grim Canticle for Leibowitz), and it benefits from the fact that ultimately neither side (The Church or the Warden, a man who helps the townspeople and may lead a rebellion) is all good or all bad. However, the story is mostly compelling because Hunter is such a compelling character. She is filled with ruthlessness and with compassion. Everything she does is initially fueled by a firm belief that it is for the greater good, and she’s lost when that is called into question. The first chapter is a harrowing and absolutely brilliant tour de force in establishing setting and character quickly and through showing instead of telling – Hunter is complex, but everything we need to know about her in order to invest in her as a person is laid out in that first chapter, which shows her being both tender and totally lethal. The first four pages establish the desert setting and Hunter’s personality in vivid detail and the next five pages show us the basics of how Hunter’s world works – it’s a simply brilliant piece of set up.

Overall, the plot moves fast and is exciting, the world building is interesting, and the sense of place is beautifully done. Hunter’s perspective is both so completely unusual and yet so relatable that it pulls the story past any flaws – whatever is happening, the reader wants Hunter to be OK. This is the first book in a series, and I was left wondering if Hunter might eventually pull a happy ending out of this story after all. I’ll be awaiting the sequel eagerly, but not in hopes of a happy romance (OK, I’ll hope a little). Mostly, I just want to see what Hunter gets up to next.

- Carrie S.
Profile Image for Stephen.
456 reviews53 followers
August 7, 2017
Thanks to friend Carol for suggesting this gem. Nothing particularly new in Dissension but the whole is soooo well done.

A dystopian future where little is left but a small ruined city. Watching over it is the Church and the Saint, providing power and protection but at a price the local citizens have become unwilling to pay. Enter Hunter 367, a soldier of the church who has begun to doubt her service and is cast out. Enter Lia a cityen medic who believes in service above all else. Will Church or City triumph, or will chaos end both?

The brilliance in Dissension is that there are no truly evil characters or enterprises (and no proselytizing if that concerns you). Everyone simply fights for what they honestly believe is the greater good--the best future for mankind. Every character is well drawn (with the exception of Loro who read as caricature throughout). Hunter's journey from predator to humane is compelling. Lia is simply lovely. The Patri and Warder are interesting as opposite sides of the same coin. I especially liked "the fierce girl." I hope she has a bigger role in the sequel.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Geo (rain).
222 reviews21 followers
August 31, 2016
"The girl Hunter murdered in the desert was only thirteen."
How's that for an opening sentence? So, 400 years ago the apocalypse happened, and the Church is now in control of the city, where the remaining survivors have divided into three Claves/sections. At the Church, there are the priests, genetic engineers in charge of the creation of the hunters, clones with enhanced strength, sight and hearing, soldiers loyal to the Church. To bear and raise them, there are the nuns, previously abducted as young girls by the Church to fulfill this purpose. And finally, the Saint, of whom I'll only say that she's in control of the city's electricity and is basically their god.

The setting is very grim, the very first chapter makes that pretty clear; it's not something I was expecting, and I personally felt the narrative too dense at times. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, which was made easy by looking at it from such a compelling protagonist's perspective. Echo Hunter 367 (the number references her batch of creation) was 'programmed' to follow orders, even when they include killing children, Which might not be so difficult for her, considering hunters don't 'feel' like the humans. They are not trained to feel sadness, or remorse, or to question what they have been taught to believe - but to do what most be done without thinking twice about it.

As the story progresses, however, we see her conflicted between what she was taught and what she, somewhere deep inside of her, believes. And I really loved seeing her go through all of that, feeling emotions she wasn't allowed to feel, and having doubts, while at the same time chastising herself for them.

Something else I really liked is that there are two sides opposed to one another: the Church and the cityens, lead by someone known as the Warder. But in this world nothing is completely good or bad. It's not as simple as that. It's a complex world, with people doing what they believe is right, with valid arguments to justify their posture. It made the story, and its characters, more realistic.

Nooooow... the love story... I admit I was expecting an awesome dystopia with some romance in it (the synopsis hinted as much). In that respect, I was disappointed because, although it is there and it's an important part of Echo's character, it's very, very subtle. Having said that, considering the setting and who Echo is, it kind of made sense, and I really loved her relationship with Lia, who's a very interesting character herself.

I know I'll read the next book when/if it comes out, and I hope to get some answers .
Profile Image for Mary Robinette Kowal.
Author 238 books4,886 followers
July 15, 2018
This is a post, post, post apocalypse novel that had so much really cool stealth world-building going on in it. The main character, Echo, is compelling in part because she has her coming-of-age story as an adult.
Profile Image for Frank Van Meer.
214 reviews7 followers
March 23, 2016
There's a lot to like about the story and the protagonist, Echo Hunter 367. She reminded me a lot of Natasha Ionadis, a very devout, dedicated servant of the Church, an entity that stands as the last bulwark against total destruction of the remaining survivors of mankind.

Echo is a troubled soul, constantly at war with herself and torn between what she wants to believe and what her rational mind thinks. We spend a lot of time inside her head, as she continues to do the Church's work, which includes killing some very young children.

But she sees the signs of a failing system, and in a desperate attempt tries to convince the leaders of this, which results in her excommunication.

Much like Natasha (The Walls of Westernfort), Echo finds herself on the other side and discovers that much of what Church wanted her to believe, isn't exactly true.

There's much to like about this book, but I'm personally not convinced with the worldbuilding. An example is how the author tries to show us how civilization changed in 400 years, by using some made up words for common things. A week is called a seven. A year is an annual. Grain is grown in Stads and the city is divided in Claves. There are some weapons, such as a static stick and something that's called a Projtruder. It's anyone's guess what a Projtruder is, because it is never explained what the darn thing is (except it has a lethal setting).

What bothered me the most, was the concept of the Saint. A Saint is what powers the city, but how that exactly works, no idea. It has to do with something called denas, or DNA for us pre-apocalyptic folks.

Somewhere in the last 25% of the book, Echo and Lia fall in love, but the romance elements are so minimal, even the Alpennia books could be considered steamy. And there's no happy ending. (I can applaud authors who do that, but I find it rage inducing sometimes)

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Beth Cato.
Author 113 books562 followers
December 28, 2016
Berg's book is a different take on a dystopia, utilizing a setting 400 years after an apocalypse has largely set humanity back to its ancient ways. The exception is within the Church, where a Saint--a rare woman born with DNA that makes her compatible with haphazard ancient computers--manages the city, utilities, and keeps her people alive. Hunter Echo is raised within the Church as a kind of elite military police officer, and she knows something almost no one else does: the current Saint was unwilling. And the faltering technology around the Church is evidence of that. Echo's doubts drive her out of the Church and into the city, where she finds rebels who have revived dangerous archaic items that threaten to undo society.

It's a fast, tense read in an incredibly dark world. Echo is a good guy who is still cold and ruthless. I can see her callousness as being a turn off to some readers, but I took her as she was: a killing machine who is gradually growing a conscience. The book ends with a very dramatic cliffhanger, which makes me eager to read the next installment, which comes out in March.
Profile Image for XR.
1,710 reviews93 followers
December 22, 2019
What a trip! I like stories of clones and just the one clone turns out to be different than the others. It’s easy for Echo compared to the younger clones, she’s lived longer, experienced more and sees more than what she was taught to believe.

What a crazy world this would be!

I’m spinning out about Lia and I’m hoping the second book sets her free so her and Echo can just be.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chip.
828 reviews44 followers
April 28, 2020
3.5 stars - and good enough, with enough of a cliffhanger ending, that I’ll read the second. Actually, rather than a cliffhanger ending, perhaps better said that this book felt incomplete, as part of a duology, rather than a stand alone book (even one that is the first of a series). Interesting worldbuilding (a post-apocalyptic cross b/t A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Sparrow and, I dunno, something with female killer clones).
Profile Image for Dangereux.
28 reviews
February 11, 2022
As someone who absolutely judges a book by its cover, I have to say that this particular cover really doesn't do this book justice. This story was recommended to me in a small social media post and decided to give it a try, and I'm so happy that I did.

The writing is solid, the world building is spectacular, and the story is paced well. I do wish that Lia's character in particular had been given a little more of a personality, as I felt she was mostly just being rescued or protected and was a little too good to be believed - though the ending explains this partially. Still, I would have liked to see a little more depth in her.

The romance, while appreciated, was so understated that I actually didn't realize that a sex scene had happened until two paragraphs later. A little more of that wouldn't have gone amiss, as it helps to explain Echo's motivation.

Overall this was a great read full of compelling characters, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.
Profile Image for Jon.
403 reviews7 followers
June 2, 2016
Legalese, legalese, legalese....I'm part of the Harper Voyager Super Reader program, going on 2 1/2 years now, which basically means free books in return for honest reviews, and the occasional swag bag. Score! While not every book is a winner, I'm having a pretty good run and besides, it's free books and I already post reviews...it's a win-win!

So, I thought I was burned out on the whole Dystopian future thing. Stacey Berg's book made me rethink that, but it took a minute. Seriously, I went into this book thinking "Meh, ok, let's burn through this one so I can slap a review on it and call it done." Then I started getting interested, lol. Yes, the book is a post-apocalypse dystopian future, with a "civilization" eking out an existence in some burned out shell of a city. Typical fare. BUT!

Berg takes a nice turn into left field with the combination of Religion and Science as the big baddie of the novel (rather than one or the other, with the "home team" as the saviors), and (thankfully) focuses on the (within the novel) present actions and future consequences rather than on how the world fell and the horrors that await any who leave the security of the city. (they do crop up, but they aren't central players...more like quality stage props that accent the story.)

Anyhow, yeah....I'm actually looking forward to the next installment in a genre I thought I was done with. Congratulations Miz Berg, you have my attention! :D

Profile Image for Steven Allen.
977 reviews17 followers
November 21, 2016
This was not something that I normally would have read. A little too heavy on the romance and not enough action normally would have put me off this book. However, the author is a masterful storyteller - weaving a tale of richly detailed characters set in a dystopian wasteland.

I do not care that the protagonist is a lesbian - her sexuality (to me) does not detract from her story, it is just part of her character.

I see why many hate the ending of this book - I saw it coming as the author left enough hints. If you want your fairy tale ending - skip this book. The ending does make sense and is in line with the character's traits, so to me it was a good way to end the story with enough meat left for another tale or two.

If I read the next book, it will be interesting to see what story arc the author uses.
Profile Image for Grace.
70 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2022
This book had fine writing, nothing particularly interesting. Its world building was vague and the unfolding of the plot was a little too convenient for my liking. But the worst part was its FAILURE to the queer community!! The author writes a lesbian “couple” that never kiss or properly get together, but instead confess their love right before one sacrifices her life!! TEXTBOOK bury your gays vibes. I was NOT pleased 😤
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sarah.
832 reviews231 followers
November 14, 2017
I first heard of Dissension while sitting at home on the couch, next to my mother who was reading a magazine put out by the Houston medical center. She made a noise, and when I asked her what it was, she passed me the magazine, open to an article about a local doctor who wrote a science fiction novel starring a queer, female clone solider. My mother said, “It’s so you.” Turns out, she was right. Dissension fits squarely into what I want in my fiction.

Echo Hunter 367 is solider created to serve and protect the Church, the leader of the last known human settlement in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. When she returns to the Church after a mission in the waste, she begins to realize that the Church is failing. Equipment is malfunctioning. The new batches of cloned soldiers are diverging farther and farther from the blueprint. And unrest is growing among the civilians in the city, some of whom think they no longer need the guidance of the Church. As doubt begins to grow inside Hunter, she’ll have to decide where her loyalties lie, and more than that who she is. What does it mean to have humanity?

Dissension has a tight focus on its protagonist. While there’s a larger story going on, just as important is Hunter’s own development and how she gradually learns to see herself as a person. In keeping with Hunter’s personality, there’s an emotional restraint to the writing. Dissension also includes a romantic relationship between Hunter and another woman, although romance was not at the forefront of the story. In fact, it was pretty low-key, which was perfect for my tastes. At the same time, I do think Hunter’s relationship with Lia, her love interest, could have been further developed.

I was fascinated by the world building of Dissension. Berg never explains or even hints at what caused the civilization ending catastrophe of four hundred years ago, and the lack of explanation never bothered me at all. It was enough to see where the city was in the present day, beginning to thrive among the ruins.

The idea of building something new out of ruins applies to the Church as well. Interestingly, it didn’t have much religion to it, or at least what I normally think of as religion. I noticed that for all the references to the Church, nuns, priests, tithing, ect, there was never any mention made of God or some other deity. At one point, it was out right said that the Church didn’t promote the idea of life after death. Instead, the Church seemed mainly like a scientific organization housed in an old cathedral and taking on the exterior trappings of Christianity.

Hunter’s treated as a cog in the machine by the Church, but that appears to be how the Church sees everyone. As far as I could tell, the priests are cloned copies too, although I don’t know what their specific enhancements are (something to make them smarter or somehow better scientists?). I do get the feeling that the Church might consider a single microscope to be more valuable than an individual priest… but the Church is also led by a priest. It’s like this huge, messed up system that doesn’t recognize anyone as actual people. I guess that’s what makes it different from similar organizations in other dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels. There’s not really an upper class of the Church that’s hugely benefiting from the system, and the leader himself, the Patri, doesn’t seem to have any special luxuries or treatment.

The picture I get is of an organization formed when human survival was incredibly in doubt and which decided to sacrifice basic humanity for the sake of survival. They’ve also changed very little in those four hundred years and are invested in doing things the way they’ve always been done because it’s the One Way to Survive. Only, it’s been four hundred years, things aren’t quite as bad, and the Church desperately needs to change.

And really, it wouldn’t take that much to fix some of the issues between the Church and the citizens of the city, but it’s also not surprising that the Church doesn’t do it. I don’t think it even occurs to them that they could change how they do things.

While I don’t think Dissension is a super action packed book, I had trouble putting it down all the same. The plot had some surprises in store, and while the ending wasn’t explicitly happy (heads up for fellow queer readers), there’s hope for the sequel.

Dissension sort of reminded me of Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer, a YA fantasy novel. Obviously, Dissension‘s sci-fi, but I think it’d appeal to the same sort of readers. Anyway, Dissension‘s a book I’d recommend to anyone looking for a post-apocalyptic story with a strong female lead.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.
Profile Image for Joan.
3,736 reviews71 followers
March 15, 2017
This novel got off to a bit of a slow and slightly confusing start but got me hooked before too long. It is dystopian and takes place four hundred years after a tragic event. The Church has been functioning as the ruling presence in the city with a Saint providing the energy for survival. There is something going very wrong and there may be only one person who can save the Church from itself – Echo Hunter 367.

I love sci-fi and really got into this novel about a third of the way in. I would have liked a little more information and description setting the stage at the beginning. Once I got into the story line, however, the plot did grab me and kept my interest.

Hunter is a clone. She and scores like her have been developed to do the will of the Church. But it seems Hunter might be defective. She has a bit of a will of her own and comes to doubt the wisdom of the leadership. There was not a great deal of character development with Echo, but as a clone, I am not sure how much she could change anyway.

The book has many good aspects of a dystopian novel. There is a desert wasteland outside of the city walls. There is the Church and there are priests but it is not a religious organization as much as just a governing body. The priests try to find information from writings to help them understand surviving machines. There is a restless community from which the Church obtains young women to carry the clones to birth. There may even be a rebellion brewing.

This novel is just the first half of the story. It is a bit depressing and ends on a less than positive note. But there is a future for Echo Hunter 367 and I am ready for the sequel.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Providence Book Promotions. My comments are an independent and honest review.
Profile Image for Jaden-marie.
124 reviews33 followers
December 30, 2020
A cool post apocalyptic story about following an agent of the church that rules over the world leftover. Echo is the possibly defective clone of advanced soldiers who is starting to doubt herself and those around her. Love a character who could absolutely kill you ten times over who has a heart of gold. I liked that there wasn't to much description, more letting things unfold through the story. Though that did make it a bit hard to connect with the world at times, Echo as a character was compelling enough to carry the story along. I didn't love the end of the story as the conclusion drawing everything together felt a bit to convenient but it was a decent, enjoyable story overall. Liked the relationship between Echo and Lia though would have liked it to be a bit more developed.

"And in that instant, she saw the entire edifice of the Church, the foundation of the world, crumbling to nothing as if it had no more substance than a handful of sand slipping through nerveless fingers."
Profile Image for Jan.
447 reviews14 followers
August 21, 2017
Our heroine is bred to unthinkingly and unhesitatingly serve the Saint and the Church. She is a well trained hunter, assassin, bodyguard, explorer, and survivor. I thought I would be rolling my eyes all the way through this book. I didn't. I got sucked in to Echo's world - the reasoning, the relationships, the struggle to rebuild. As I have often said - I don't want to read about sex. Yet the relationship between Echo and Lia is absolutely central to the book. Thank you, Ms. Berg, for handling the sex obliquely and tastefully. I will definitely be reading the next one.
Profile Image for Kate.
408 reviews8 followers
March 16, 2017
A good set up for a series. I hope the worldbuilding is fleshed out going forward because I need some answers. How does a girl's genetics power a whole city? How does Echo understand what technologies are but doesn't even know the word for book? How has the Church kept a death grip on the population for 400 years, not to mention keeping its tech running?
Profile Image for Helen.
896 reviews2 followers
August 8, 2017
It doesn't take a leap of faith to contemplate the position of power that the church would keep following some dystopian disaster. What doesn't occur to us is the format the church would have. And I can't possibly run this book by telling you :D

Fascinating world building, interesting characters all make this an exciting read.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
123 reviews1 follower
March 24, 2017
This book was a pleasant surprise. It has a really great heroine and much better sense of the post apocalyptic world than I was expecting, and I liked the ending. I'm looking forward to Echo Hunter's future stories
53 reviews
June 3, 2017
Loved it. Didn't know what to expect but was unable to put it down. I was so wrapped up in the characters and it really was such a eel developed story. Can't wait to read the second of the series.
Profile Image for Kandice Miles-Scott.
181 reviews8 followers
February 12, 2019
This was a new kind of book for me. I read the synopsis and it looked interesting. I am blown away by the details in this book! The work in which the main character, Echo, lives in is crazy! I can totally see ya as humans reverting to this kind of set up if the world ever has an apocalypse but dang is this frightening! The character development and story writing through this book is excellent.
Profile Image for Wall-to-wall books - wendy.
952 reviews22 followers
March 28, 2017
4.5 Stars!

Wow! This series is amazing! I will be reviewing Regeneration - book 2 tomorrow. So be sure to check it out.
First off - this is real Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian/Futuristic so if you do not like that kind of thing - you will probably not like this at all. But - if you like that kind of thing, like I do - you will love this series! This is the real deal here. Stacey is not messing around.

At first I found it hard to like Echo and the others or even get a feel for their personalities because - they didn't have any! "The Hunters" so they are called, are made that way, with no feelings. They are like robot hunting/fighting machines. But... there's always a but isn't there, about 1/3 of the way through you start to realize Echo is different and her personality starts coming through. She has a heart!!!! LOL Soooo needless to say I ended up loving Echo (and her name). I also loved Lia, the Med. Great character development, or lack of when needed! I thought this was done to perfection.

Also about half way through the story got very exciting and there was a lot happening. This was a definite page turner all the way to the end.
This book is dark, its sad, its kind of creepy, but exciting and the characters lack depth and personality at first - but all that is meant to be! And I loved it it, it was not supposed to be any other way.

Stacey - You rock! If you write it - I will read it!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from the publicist of - William Morrow & Dey Street Books/HarperCollinsPublishers - Thank You!
79 reviews9 followers
April 13, 2016
400 years after the apocalypse, the City, which contains the sum of all remaining people, is still barely surviving. Order has been maintained by the Church and its warrior class, Hunters, cloned from the enhanced DNA of a single woman. Electrical power has been maintained by the Saint, a comatose woman who seems to be no more than a battery. Echo Hunter 367, is one of the church’s cold, calculating enforcers, but she has an apparent flaw - empathy.

The leader of the church describes a secret mission which Echo is to undertake - infiltrating a group of the normal city citizens suspected of plotting against the church. Shortly after learning of this mission though, Echo’s old friend is killed under questionable circumstances. In a moment of anger, Echo utters a blasphemous statement about the church and the Saint which causes her to be exiled from the church. Herein lies the tension for the remainder of the book. Was banishment part of the greater plan for her mission or has she really been kicked out?

The story is told completely from the third person limited POV - only seeing and interpreting the world through Echo’s eyes and thoughts. And sometimes the thoughts are a bit strange. Echo is always considering her best defense, how to most easily nullify any threats - her killer instinct is so ingrained that it warps her ability to interact in a normal way with the humans. She is also a bit arrogant and it becomes fun looking for reactions of people around her and drawing your own conclusions as to what is going on as opposed to what Echo thinks is happening. That is the genius of this novel.

Lia is a normal citizen who works as a medical healer in the city and Echo is required to help her tend to Lia’s patients. It is a good fit due to Echo’s extreme training. Echo, unfortunately, is seriously stunted emotionally. It’s not even certain that she has the capacity to feel emotion as she is utterly pragmatic in most everything she does. And, so, there is a romance that begins to develop between the two, but Echo’s perspective does not even allow that a romantic attraction could occur. Indeed, at one point, Echo is told to follow her heart and the reader can only wonder what that would possibly mean to Echo.

This is a great lesbian sci-fi / thriller novel. I paid 7USD for the Kindle version and felt that the price was fair. While the book is a complete story, the subtitle is “An Echo Hunter 367 Novel”. I hope that means that there are more. I will gladly purchase more from this author.
Profile Image for Megan P ☆.
148 reviews62 followers
July 27, 2016

This book was imperfect but still really enjoyable. I could tell by the overall story telling that this was the author's first novel, but her strong handling of language and melodic way with words simultaneously made it clear Berg is not new to writing in general.

There were sometimes small jumps and implications that left me questioning what exactly had just happened. So I would hope for more clarity in her future books, though this seemed to improve even over the course of this novel. There was also one scene where something very important, in theory, happened but that added nothing to the overall plot and which became irrelevant surprisingly quickly.

However, as I mentioned, the writing was very well done. It was easy to fall into the story and though I struggled to deeply connect with the characters, they were relatively well rounded and interesting and for the most part, likable (of course, as in any book, not all of them were meant to be likable). I found the setting and world building to be strong and mostly unique but I would also love to learn more about the events that led up to the "Fall", the rise of the Church, and so on in subsequent novels. I was eager for Lia and Echo's relationship and I wish there had been more romance-- but I also appreciate and respect the lack of insta-love and the slow, sweet build up. It's so refreshing and exciting for me to find a book like this, where you can enjoy the elements of a futuristic dystopian story AND have LGBTQ+ main characters whose sexualities are not speculated on but presented as normal and natural. LGBT+ books about coming out, finding yourself, and first romances are important but they also dominant the scene so I love to find something different.
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