The Shining Walls by Melissa Ferguson. (2019).
**4 out of 5 stars**
The world is ruined. The wealthy elite hide behind walls while living longer thanks to technology. Security and labour is provided by cloned Neandertals. Women in the shanty towns and wastelands are exploited.
Alida is orphaned and caring for her younger sister in the Demi-Settlements outside the wall. They will be forced to enter the City separately and may not see each other again.
Shuqba is a cloned Neandertal officer who has been exiled to the Demi-Settlements after failing to live up to the City’s standards. Will she offer Alida a lifeline or betray her?
I quite enjoyed this novel. It is science fiction but feels really realistic, like omg this could actually happen in the future realistic! One of the intriguing things about this novel is that it has a lot of familiar elements from the dystopia genre, but it feels like a unique new story. The concepts in the storyline are both fascinating and terrifying. For me I found a lot of symbolism and representation of current issues in our modern society reflected throughout the book. Alida truly was a great female lead being a strong girl doing the best she could with her situation, and Shuqba was interesting to follow with her internal struggle between what she has been taught do in society and what feels morally right to her. I think these characters could be explored further in future books if the author wanted to, I’d certainly be keen to see what happens next! I’d happily recommend this book for those that are open to science fiction and dystopia fiction.