The Raging Ones

The Raging Ones was written by Krista and Becca Ritchie and first published in 2018. It is a science fiction story, set in a world where everyone’s death day is predetermined. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

On Saltare-3, society is based around how long a person will live. Scientists have determined accurately determine a person’s life span through a simple blood test. Babes – people who will live to be no older than thirteen – are the only ones who are allowed to wile away their short lives at leisure. The long-lived Influentials are also allowed a measure of luxury. Society deems only them worthy of education as they will live long enough to make use of it. All menial jobs are performed by the Fast-Trackers – people destined to die between the age of thirteen and thirty. They will never live long enough to become great, but at least this means they will give something back to society.

Franny Bluecastle knows that her time has come. There is no point fearing your death day when you’ve known about it your whole life. However, when she wakes up from a drug induced stupor the following day, she finds herself trapped in a nightmare. She has somehow managed to skip her death and now has no way of knowing when it will catch up with her.

She is soon discovered by two other people like her – serious Court Icecastle and laid-back Mykal Kickfall. She also learns that the three of them share a strange bond that allows them to sense the same physical sensations, even when they are far apart. Court realises that if anyone finds out that they have missed their death days, serious questions will be asked. Their only salvation is to win a place on the first manned space mission in centuries. But how can they hope to be selected when every other viable Influential is desperate for the same chance…

I was attracted to The Raging Ones purely by its concept. Death is always a dramatic focal point for a novel and I was hoping for another strong read in the vein of Scythe or Everless. Unfortunately, that was not what I discovered. The Raging Ones fell into one of my least favourite categories of young adult novels. It was one of those books that just failed to engage me in any way. However, I do note that I seem to be in the minority in this opinion. At the time of writing, this book has received some stunning reviews on Goodreads and so I would certainly suggest checking it out for yourself if you’re in any way curious.

The problem that I had with The Raging Ones was that it did not seem to know what it wanted to be. The story just felt as though it had been overstuffed as it contained a lot of different plot threads and core concepts. There was the pre-determined death days, the unexplained bond shared by the protagonists, the space program, the crazy escaped convict, the trials and student rivalry, and the frozen wasteland dystopian setting to name but a few. This was just too much. Any paring of these could have formed the basis of an interesting plot but The Raging Ones did not spend enough time focusing on any of them enough to develop them.

To make matters worse, the novel did not even take the time to explain its unique concepts. The Raging Ones is one of those fantasy settings that is totally immersive, throwing names and ideas at the reader without explaining any of them. This made the novel incredibly hard to get into as it chucks the reader in at the deep end. While everything does gradually come together as the story progresses, you really do need to stick with it as the early chapters are more than a little confusing.

This was not helped by the style in which the story is written. The link between Franny, Court and Mykal was an interesting idea. While the three can’t read minds, they can sense each other’s emotions and experience any physical sensations, be they pleasure or pain. Unfortunately, this bond made the faster paced scenes incredibly hard to follow as it made it unclear who was experiencing what. Added to this was a lack of descriptive text and the fact that the three narrators spoke with very similar voices, which meant that I frequently found that I had to reread scenes to be certain of what was happening.

The story also ended on an abrupt cliff-hanger. Yeah, you’re probably sick of hearing me whine about these by now. While the final paragraphs of The Raging Ones did contain a rather unexpected twist, it also left the fates of several major characters a bit up in the air. While I’m marginally curious to find out what will happen to them next, I was still left frustrated by the way that it made this phase of the story feel unfinished.

The strongest aspect of The Raging Ones was certainly its characters, as Franny, Court and Mykal did all have very different personalities, despite the fact that this did not always come across in their narrative. They also shared a bit of an unconventional relationship. While Court and Mykal feel more like a couple in the traditional sense, their bond with Franny caused the three to develop a bit more of an open relationship as it forced them to share even their most intimate of experiences.

However, I did not feel that the novel spent enough time developing the characters individually. While things do happen to each of them in the story, the details are often glossed over. Its unclear how Mykal seems to hold his own while taking the tests when he’s nowhere near as academically gifted as the Influentials. In fact, we don’t really see a lot of the training that they undergo while at StarDust at all. Similarly, the opening chapters focus on teaching Franny how to behave like an Influential, yet we see very little of this on page. Most of her two months of intense studying seems to occur between chapters.

The Raging Ones also has a habit of name dropping characters. This is especially true during the section set at StarDust, as it introduces a lot of minor characters only to quickly have them fail their tests. The climax reveals that only four of secondary characters are actually important and so I felt that more time should have been devoted to strengthening their relationships with the main cast. The only secondary character that I felt remotely attached to was Zimmer.

Anyhow, I’m starting to ramble so I guess I’ll wrap this up. I was expecting to enjoy The Raging Ones but it has turned out to be one of my biggest disappointments of 2018 to date. The story had some nice ideas but failed to develop them, ultimately feeling like more of smorgasbord of concepts than a fully developed novel. Hopefully, the sequel will be a lot more focused.

The Raging Ones can be purchased as a Hardback, eBook and Audio Book on

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