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|Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel
Zachary Thomas Dodson
"It was the third massacre I'd witnessed."
Bats of the Republic features original artwork and an immaculate design to create a unique novel of adventure and science fiction, of political intrigue and future dystopian struggles, and, at its riveting core, of love.
In 1843 Chicago, fragile naturalist Zadock Thomas falls in love with the high society daughter of Joseph Gray, a prominent ornithologist. Mr. Gray sets an impossible condition for their marriage—Zadock must deliver a sealed and highly secretive letter to General Irion, fighting one thousand miles southwest, deep within the embattled and newly independent Republic of Texas. The fate of the Union lies within the mysterious contents of that sealed letter, but that is only the beginning . . .
Three hundred years later, in the dystopian city-state of the Texas Republic, Zeke Thomas has just received news of the death of his grandfather, an esteemed Chicago senator. The world has crumbled. Paper documents are banned, citizens are watched, and dissenters are thrown over the walls into "the rot." When Zeke inherits—and then loses—a very old, sealed letter from his grandfather, Zeke finds himself and the women he loves at the heart of a conspiracy whose secrets he must unravel, if it doesn't destroy his relationship, his family legacy, and the entire republic first.
The two propulsive narratives converge through a wildly creative assortment of documents, books within books, maps, notes, illustrations, and more. Zach Dodson has created a gorgeous work of art and an eye-popping commercial adventure for the 21st century.
The fun I had with this book! It reminded me of my time as a kid reading a 'choose your own adventure' book. It was borderline mixed media - not many loose leaf breadcrumbs or anything out on the www to connect to the pages. The art, though! Brilliant. I loved the feel, look and touch of this book. The spine was velvet lined (which ended up filled with cat/dog fur by the time I was finished). Have you seen this Author by the way? Check him out (pic to the right). He's as wacky as his book, and that moustache is FANCY! Speaking of mustaches, there are a few moustached characters - very distinguished gentlemen.
Let me get to the book... what an adventure. I haven't had this much fun reading in a long time. "Bats" is chock full of MAPS (Love maps), letters (LOVE letters, history (yeah, history is cool), and the future (o0oo so very sci-fi, love that too). It is unlike anything I've ever read but at the same time reminded me of quite a few books I've read... if that makes sense. I was reminded of George Orwell's "1984", the future is controlled very similarly. I also got hints of Mark Z. Danielewski and the multi-colored text. Although, I couldn't find a strong distinction as to why the text was colored differently (where as Danielewski has purpose for everything he does funky in his books). If anyone found a connection, please share it with me! Anyways, this book goes back and forth in time (no middle here) between 1843 & 2143, both centering around Texas and Chicago. To try and explain the states in the future would ruin the surprise but let's just say Texas isn't just Texas and Chicago isn't just Chicago. The future is very sterile, a little bleak but with control and order. The past is just that... the past (but chock full of rich and exciting history). The surprising thing is that I didn't connect well with the main characters from the future, or even the main character from the past. My favorite storyline/character was within the sisters and the book within a book. Something about it reminded me a little of "Pride and Prejudice" with courtships and strong-willed females. I told you this book has many reminiscent moments towards some great classics. I wonder if the Author did this on purpose?
So, we are left with the one burning question... should you read this book? Well, do what I did... crack the spine and feel the eyes of the bat staring into your soul... telling you to read this book. Yep, THAT'S what hooked me from the start... the bats! If the bats don't get you... the snakes will. I promise you that you'll embark upon an adventure like no other, filled with beautiful drawings and imaginative storylines. You will want to find out how it ends.
P.S. - I can't wait to see how far this one goes in the Tournament of Books.