Almost Human - Book 1:Discovery
Updated: May 18, 2022
The war we all fear has happened. Much of the world is devastated by the weaponry used – nuclear, chemical and biological. Survivors are leaving these areas in droves seeking safe refuge. New America doesn’t want them. It closed the borders and refuses to acknowledge those that remain as legitimate citizens.
Refugees are treated as a class of their own. They are denied access to basic amenities like running water, electricity and the digital world. No cars, no phones, no banking. Everything for them is cash only – they are ‘cashers.’
Although set in the future, this is a future not too far removed from reality. We can easily extrapolate from current day events to what could be, without much difficulty. It is unsettling, and makes us think deeply about the direction we are heading in. As I read, I cringed. The attitudes and abuse in this future have their seeds in the world around us.
The poor suffer while the rich thrive, aided and abetted by a controlling government with cameras on every street corner. This government needs new weapons to keep them safe – enter experimental genetically modified humans who are stronger than humans, learn quicker than humans, and kill without an iota of human compassion.
Some escape, including Edel, a female version who has never had a name before, only a number, and the scene is set.
The prologue is a masterpiece. It’s a rapid introduction to this new world. We know straightaway that it’s bad, horrific. Human workers are expected to follow instructions without question, no matter how insanely against any ideals; failure to comply puts them at risk. One woman takes a chance and rescues a baby. We know that the compassion that makes us human still lingers at least somewhere in this world. I was hooked.
The author skilfully takes us into Edel’s mindset. She now has her freedom, but what is freedom if you don’t know what it means or what to do with it. She has only been outside the building she was raised in twice. She has never been allowed to think for herself, to make a choice. To question instructions, to think anything she wasn’t allowed, to do anything she wasn’t told, was to experience excruciating pain.
Her fear is crippling, her lack of ability to overcome what has been instilled into her is frustrating; the ease with which she kills is chilling. Yet we meet Jay, her patient, reluctant saviour, and despite her problems we are on Edel’s side. We fear for Jay’s safety and cheer him on for being a wonderful human being.
Then along comes Danny and we enter his traumatised mind, genetically created the same as Edel but raised in a human family, without ever having learned how to control the genetic traits that were bred into him.
The story is told at a rapid pace and as a reader I was raring to go with it. I wanted, no -needed, to know what was going to happen next. I almost skipped ahead to see what was coming but couldn’t bring myself to leave anything out. I reached the end fearing that this would be a sad ending, in keeping with the miserableness of the world it’s set in, but there was a glimmer of hope that all might turn out well. And yes, we will get to meet these extraordinary characters again in the next book.
I asked the author to tell me a bit about herself.
Hi, I’m Ashleigh Reverie, self-published author of the series, Almost Human. My publishing journey probably looks different to most. For one thing, I never wanted to be an author. The thought honestly had never entered my head. To my mind, writing was one of those things that clever people did. You know… the ones who had degrees in literature and such.
So how did I end up here? Well, I’ve always had an active imagination. The characters in my books have been with me for a very long time. I would share snippets of storylines I had going on in my head. Everyone I told said I should write it down. I just decided one day to begin writing, and before I knew it, I had a first draft.
From that point, I threw myself into learning as much as I could about writing. It’s become more than a hobby now; I would consider it a full-blown obsession! I still never intended to publish anything, but I just wanted to see if what I had was any good.
I sent my manuscript to some friends. Their responses were really positive, but that wasn’t enough for me. They were my friends and I didn’t believe that they would tell me if it was awful, so I searched out some beta readers that I didn’t know. For the most part, their responses were positive, but they also gave valuable critiques that helped me to tighten up my story in places.
I went through all the steps before I published. I edited, I got feedback from beta readers and edited again. I sent it to a developmental editor and then edited again based on her feedback. I then had it copy edited before I published. I really took my time, because I care so much about my characters, that I wouldn’t want to let them down with poor writing.
Editing was expensive, but I believe it was worth it. When I sent my manuscript, I was under the impression that it was pretty much perfect. After all, my friends and beta readers had all told me so… But my Editor found entire passages that needed changing, removing, or rewording. With her help, my story was elevated into something better and more polished.
The cover of my books, I designed myself. This is something I wish I had done differently, because I believe a professional could produce something much better than what I have managed to come up with, but I had spent my budget on editing, and I didn’t expect to sell any copies of my book, because this was just a fun project.
I formatted the book myself using KDP. It’s very simple and the guide is easy to use. Once you have formatted the manuscript, you can set it to paperback and hardcover copies as well as eBook.
Marketing a book is a totally different skill to writing one! I haven’t really got much of a marketing strategy, I’m just floating along, but I’m loving the ride. I’m mostly relying on word of mouth and positive reviews to get me noticed. My reviews have been very positive so far. When I published, I expected I would sell about five copies and they would all go to my friends and family. Well, even though I’m not going to be reaching bestseller status anytime soon, I’m happy to report that I have sold many, many more copies than I ever expected and the response to Almost Human has been amazing.
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