The Dark Intercept
by Julia Keller
Cover Artist: Dave Seeley
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Teen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765387622
Date: 31 October 2017 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Two worlds separated to make the best and brightest of humanity live well. The remainder are left below to get by as they can as the infrastructure fails and disease runs rampant. A new technology makes crime fighting easier, but the cost is freedom.
Intercept wasn't created in the safe environs of New Earth. The concept was created by a very intelligent boy who lived on earth. He had a dream, that dream became Intercept. A technology which can pull up someone's deepest emotional memory and play it back with greater intensity. So great is the emotion that it causes the subject to freeze wracked by the memory.
Intercept takes the most private and uses it against people. The peace and prosperity seem to be enough, but some aren't happy and are looking for a way to be free of the all-seeing technology. When Intercept can see so much, there is little privacy, but sometimes secrets can be kept.
Violet Crowley works with Intercept. She observes and determines when to deploy the technology. She likes one of the police officers she observes, Danny Mayhew, the brother of the inventor of Intercept. She is afraid to open up to Danny because he has secrets and doesn't want to discuss them even as he becomes closer to Violet. Part of his reticence may be that she is the daughter of the man who founded and made New Earth a reality.
As Violet learns more about herself and her past, she must come to grips with what the present has become for the people. In the end, Violet and Danny must learn to live with the deaths that loom over them. They will need to make choices that will affect New Earth and the paths available to everyone.
I was drawn to this novel by the setup. Two worlds connected but very different. This isn't a groundbreaking story, but a different take on one that has been used recently. One that comes to mind is Upside Down where there are two worlds separated by gravity. Another is Elysium, where there is a space station where most of the plagues of the earth are no longer an issue.
This YA story is told in the third person following mainly Violet's action, but there are brief interludes with other characters. These breaks give depth to the characters as well as providing knowledge of parts of the world removed from Violet. The use of Intercept flashbacks are also a helpful way to provide backstory and link the various characters Violet meets.
It took me a little while to get into the flow of this novel. I believe it was more of a timing issue of when I picked up the novel rather than any technical issues with it. The last half of the novel was very fast moving and I finished the last 150 pages in one sitting. Overall, I was happy with this stand-alone novel. The author did a nice job setting up the world and providing readers with a good coming of age story.