“Revelation: Poppet Cycle” by Donna J.W. Munro

“Revelation: Poppet Cycle” by Donna J.W. Munro 683 1024 Reader Views Kids

Revelation: Poppet Cycle

Donna J.W. Munro
Omnium Gatherum Media (2021)
ISBN: 978-1949054255
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (09/2023)

“Revelation: Poppet Cycle, Book 1” by Donna J.W. Munro is YA dystopian fiction at its best and most breathtaking. The insight, characters, and profound concepts found within this tale remind me of several other YA reads that crossed over into the mainstream. I’m thinking especially of dystopian reads like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” These books and others in the genre reached critical and popular acclaim because they are richly layered stories. They can be read on more than one level, depending on how much the reader is willing to invest. On the surface, they are exciting stories of how the world could be in the not-so-distant future. On a deeper level, they provide possibilities that should come with warning labels, encouraging one to think beyond the veneer of the tale.

In “Revelation: Poppet Cycle” we meet the main character, Ellie DesLoge. She is heir to the company that manufactures poppets. The process of turning freshly dead cadavers into programmable servants to handle the less savory tasks in society is ironically termed poppetry. Yeah, seriously. Imagine zombies that don’t rot and have been programmed to remove that nasty tendency toward eating humans. Now, instead of rotting away in a cemetery no one visits, or being flash-fried in the crematorium, dead loved ones can be sold to DesLoge Com so that their bodies may continue to serve society. What a great idea! No more menial tasks in this society, they are taken care of by mindless meat bags that no longer have thoughts, feelings, or souls.

Ellie understands she’s being groomed to take over the company, eventually. She also understands that while portions of poppet manufacturing are distasteful, the product is exceedingly useful and even delightful. Ellie adores her poppet, Thom. He’s been with her as long as she can remember, as a constant companion and servant. She actually has feelings for the old poppet, even though she knows that’s silly. He’s not alive. He can’t speak or communicate. He has no independent thought- only the programming provided by her aunt’s company. Yet Thom holds a special place in her heart, even as she approaches adulthood.

Ellie’s calm, pre-planned life hits a speedbump in the form of a teenager named Moze who has just come to live with his aunt following the death of his parents. It’s obvious Moze isn’t from the city, and none of the kids at school are warming up to him. When Moze’s aunt, a popular senator and powerful woman, asks Ellie to host a party for Moze to introduce him to society, she discovers there is much more to him than any of them suspected. Moze was raised in the Wild, outside the safety of the domed city. He’s also a Resurrectionist, opposed to her company using the dead to make poppets. Romeo, meet Juliet.

The author has taken a unique concept, casting our post-apocalyptic favorites, the zombies, in a more socially acceptable form. Then she threw in some “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” just to spice things up. There couldn’t be two more disparate genres than those she has deftly woven together here. Yet it works with amazing dexterity. As Moze begins to expose Ellie to the truth behind the poppet trade, Ellie has some very serious decisions to make. In her youthful ignorance, she thinks she’ll be able to change society’s viewpoint from the inside. But her dear auntie/DesLoge Com CEO makes it clear that Ellie’s ideas are childish, silly, and short-sighted.

Several characters within this tale are noteworthy. Ellie, Moze, and the two aunts are very well crafted with depth and emotions. Ellie’s school friends are reasonably deep as secondary characters. Then there are two characters that rank head and shoulders above them all as “sleepers.”  For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t mention names. But I will say that as Ellie’s world begins to implode, she discovers she is more loved and more cared for than she ever knew. People have made incredible sacrifices for her, and she has lived her life blissfully unaware.

This story took my breath away. At times, it had the breezy feel of YA romance reads as Ellie and her school friends argued over the inane first-world problems that only matter in high school. But the turn of a page would put me into an emotional tailspin as a dim light was aimed at the nasty, hidden evils of this society. I might be laughing at a witty comment, then fighting angry tears in the next chapter at the injustice of it all. I want to think nothing like this could ever possibly happen. Yet it already did, and in some ways still does.

I love the gentle approach the author used. At no point did this amazing work feel preachy or judgmental. In fact, the reader is privy to Ellie’s struggles as she tries to make sense of what she’s always known and what she’s recently discovered. I appreciate that the concepts of this novel were treated as multi-faceted issues. 

Whether you’re a fan of young adult stories, dystopian tales, romance, sci-fi, coming-of-age, cyberpunk, or even historical fiction there is much to love about the genre-busting “Revelation: Poppet Cycle” by Donna J.W. Munro. For young adults, it’s a definite don’t-miss read. For adults like me, it’s an astounding, fresh look at societal issues in a profound yet entertaining novel. I’ve put my money where my mouth is; I’ve already bought the next book in the series because I want more of this story!

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