Book Review & Author Interview: City of the Falling Sky, Joseph Evans
Posted by The Obscured Vixen on August 16, 2011
5 of 5 stars – Loved it! Give it to me again.
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
City of the Falling Sky (The Seckry Sequence Book 1)
by Joseph Evans
When fourteen year old Seckry Sevenstars is forced out of his village by the greedy Endrin Corporation and relocated to the daunting metropolis of Skyfall City, he harbours resentment for the company and vows to get them back one day for taking away his home, his school and his friends.
Fortunately, the marvels of the city do a good job in distracting Seckry from his anger and homesickness, and it isn’t long before he’s competing at Friction (the city’s most popular multiplayer video game,) slurping awe-inspiring multicoloured milkshakes, and getting butterflies on his first date.
Then, when a mysterious email asks Seckry to break into the headquarters of the Endrin Corporation and steal a container full of worms for a hefty sum of money, his anger resurfaces, and he can’t resist the revenge he promised himself.
Alone at night, Seckry creeps through the sewers whilst wondering what experiments Endrin might be doing on the worms, and emerges into the silent complex. But the worms aren’t the only thing that he finds. Staring at him through the darkness, with wide, innocent eyes, is something that makes Seckry’s heart almost stop.
A girl. She’s shaking, petrified, and has no recollection of who she is or what she’s doing there. Floodlights bleach the area and Seckry has no choice but to grab a hold of the girl and escape with her.
Suddenly the question of what Endrin were doing with a few worms becomes the last thing on Seckry’s mind. What were Endrin doing with a human?
This book was phenomenal! If The Uglies series and Harry Potter merged, you would come out with ‘The Seckry Sequence.’ City of the Falling Sky engaged me from the first page, and never let me go. The multiple story lines, mostly unseen in YA, was a wonderful surprise. You follow Seckry through starting at a new school, playing Friction, having his first big crush, while trying to find out the mysteries behind a corporation that seems to be incorporated in all aspects of the city.
Like a typical teenage boy, Seckry gets into all kinds of trouble. He breaks into the Endrin Corporation and saves a girl that has no memories of her past. While trying to find out about her past, he is slowly learning more about his fathers mysterious disappearance. The suspense and mystery in this book was extremely refreshing for a YA story.
Evans does an extremely well job of keeping the multiple story lines on track, without having it become confusing. The great twists Evans included at the end of the story made me want to re-read this book the moment I finished it. I want to travel to the future just so I can play Friction! Any gamer will greatly appreciate this storyline.
This story would make a great movie, and I highly recommend everyone reading City of the Falling Sky.
Interview with Joseph Evans
Besides being an amazing author, Joseph Evans is an all around great guy. Not to mention funny! I was lucky enough to get an interview with Joseph Evans after reading City of the Falling Sky.
The Obscured Vixen: I thoroughly enjoyed this story and can’t wait for the next book in ‘The Seckry Sequence.’ Is there a release date for the next book in this series?
Joseph Evans: I haven’t set a date yet, although I want to get it finished as soon as I can. Everybody that’s read the book has been so positive and enthusiastic about it that I want to return the favour by giving them the next installment straight away. Unfortunately at the moment most of my time is taken up by my job as a bookseller in my city centre to pay the bills, and I can only write, like many authors, in my spare time. The second book is completely planned out though, and I am in the midst of writing it now, so keep an eye out on my blog and my Twitter for an announcement. I’m just as excited about the second book as you! I can’t wait to share Seckry’s adventures in his second year in Skyfall City because it’s going to be even more fun, more exciting, and more epic than the first.
TOV: Any spoilers on what we can expect to see in the next book?
JE: I’m itching to tell people what happens in the second book! I keep thinking I’m going to reveal all one night after a few drinks at a party or something! For the sake of the impact of reading it, though, I have to keep most of it under wraps. What I can tell you is that the epilogue of the first book introduces a character that we weren’t expecting to appear, and this character plays a huge role in the second. Even though he was talked about a fair bit, we never really learned much about him. This is going to change, and his past is going to be very important to the plot. Aside from this there will be more school, more Friction, and more love lessons from Tenk! I’ve also found that Vance is a very popular character, and his fans will be pleased to know that he plays an even bigger, more important role in this one.
TOV: I’ll have to take you out for drinks to get some information out of you. Will we learn more about Seckry’s father?
JE: Yes. Seckry’s father is a huge part of the overall structure of the sequence, and everything we learned about his disappearance in the first book affects Seckry’s actions in the second.
TOV: Have you always been interesting in writing urban fantasy stories?
JE: Yes, my stories have always seemed to have a city at its heart. I grew up (and still live in) a capital city, where our playground as kids were busy streets and graffitied alleys. My best childhood memories are set to the backdrop of concrete and rusted metal, and our school overlooked a giant steel factory. This is why I chose to write an urban fantasy; for me, cities are magical.
TOV: Have you always been interested in futuristic stories?
JE: Growing up, I actually read more traditional fantasy than science fiction, I think I’d rather read Tolkien than Isaac Asimov. I think futuristic stories that are set light years ahead of our time are just too daunting and too far removed from my own experiences to be enjoyable. This is why City of the Falling Sky, even though slightly futuristic, closely resembles our own world. For people to connect with the characters, me included, I think they need to have the same day to day problems and joys as we do.
TOV: Where did you come up with the idea for the Divinita Chamber?
JE: The chamber itself I actually have no idea, but the twist that happens in that chamber was the first thing I came up with, before any of the story was planned out. I did a bit of brainstorming about possible twists, and when I wrote down what was going to happen, a huge grin spread across my face.
TOV: That was such a great twist, too! How did you create the names of the futuristic characters and food in this story?
JE: The names were one of the funnest things to invent. I actually took a lot of inspiration from Harry Potter. Names like Longbottom, Dumbledore, Weasley and Hogwarts sounded very silly to me the first time I read them. Now, of course, all of those names stir completely different emotions in me because of what has happened to those characters and places through the books. I found this fascinating, how such jovial sounding words could become so affecting over time, and I wanted to do the same. The favourite name I came up with for a character is Loca Thumbsuckle. I love how it makes her sound very vulnerable and innocent, and in reality, she is the opposite. The food names were all onomatopoeic, mullsquash soup and double dairypies are completely nonsensical, but still make my mouth water!
TOV: You created Friction, a virtual reality game where players use avatars to compete in virtual arenas. What did you use for inspiration when creating Friction?
JE: Again, my biggest inspiration for Friction was Harry Potter. I absolutely loved Quidditch, and looked forward to it in every book that it appeared in. I haven’t read anything since that had its main character so passionate about a sport, so I wanted to recapture that excitement and give readers something to look forward to at the centre of each of the books in the series.
TOV: The gamer in me really enjoyed reading about Friction. Are you a big gamer yourself?
JE: I’m a massive gamer! Can you tell? Making my book’s sport a stadium based multiplayer video game just seemed perfect. Multiplayer gaming is now bigger than ever, and it shows no sign of stopping, so I think it may be only a matter of time before something like Friction has the technology to become a reality. My gaming obsession began when my parents bought me a Sinclair Spectrum back in the early nineties, and I’ve gone through all the major consoles since, not to mention keeping my PC’s graphics card updated so I can game away on that too! A couple of my rejection letters from agents actually say that they’re just not interested in anything to do with video game culture, and that was why they rejected it. This seems crazy coming from agencies that represent YA and teen titles. Anyone who claims to know anything about the youth of today should understand how important gaming is to a lot of us. I hate the idea that video games are bad for kids, and that they distract them from reading, because it was video games that got me reading in the first place. I played and loved the Discworld games, which in turn made me a devout fan of Terry Pratchett. And after playing so many anime styled Japanese games, I was drawn to Chris Wooding’s Broken Sky series, which became one of my favourite series of all time.
TOV: What are some of your favorite games?
JE: My favourite game of all time is Final Fantasy VII. It was so beyond anything that I had ever played before at the time, I was just completely blown away. Aside from the amazing depth and breadth of things to do and places to explore, the story was so involving and heart wrenching at times that I wanted to cry. Anyone that’s played it will see that it had an influence on me in City of the Falling Sky. I came up with the name Skyfall City originally as an homage to Midgar, because I was so affected by the story when the president of Shinra drops a segment of the city’s upper plate onto the lower plate, crushing an entire community as punishment for a small rebel group opposing his greedy developments. For the people underneath, it really was as though the sky was falling down on them. Other favourite games of mine are Final Fantasy VIII, the Broken Sword series (only 1 and 2 though), the Monkey Island series, the Street Fighters, and Command and Conquer.
TOV: I would love to be able to actually play Friction. Ever thought about what your Friction avatar would look like?
JE: My avatar would be a mecha I think. I’m obsessed with technology so I’d always want to have the latest gadgets and upgrades, just like Tippian!
TOV: How long have you been writing?
JE: I started writing when I was fifteen, after reading Chris Wooding’s amazing Broken Sky series. I learned that he was only 19 when he had his first book published, and it really inspired me. I also had an amazing English teacher at the time who was really enthusiastic, and she spurred me on. My first attempts at novels were very similar in style and setting to The Seckry Sequence. The only difference was I never planned the stories beforehand, so I always got lost about a third of the way in.
TOV: What genre of books do you enjoy reading?
JE: My favourite genre is exactly what I write. I started reading YA/teen fantasy when I was a teenager, and even though I’m now 26, I still haven’t grown out of it!
TOV: Besides writing or reading, what is your favorite thing to do?
JE: Aside from gaming, I’m a big movie fan, and I have an unlimited pass at the local cinema. I love Hollywood blockbusters and who knows, maybe one day I’ll see The Seckry Sequence up on that screen! I also love to draw, play the piano, and make dance music.
TOV: If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
JE: I’d buy a walk-in full body dryer that dries you after having a shower without having to use a towel. Here in the UK it’s pretty cold most mornings and I hate that feeling when you turn the shower off and you’re stood there, freezing. Pretty random I know!
TOV: Random, but very awesome! What is your favorite movie or TV show?
JE: My favourite movie is Garden State. I’m a sucker for romcoms, and this one for me is just perfect. The things the characters say and do are just so true to life and cleverly observed, and I love that the soundtrack was handpicked by Zach Braff. The whole film is a labour of love, and you can really tell. My favourite TV show is Survivor. here in the UK we only had two seasons before it was axed for low ratings (insane), so I’ve been watching the American one and I’m completely hooked. The chess match that went on during the Heroes Vs Villains season was just so fun to watch with all those hidden immunity idols.
TOV: What kind of music do enjoy listening to?
JE: I like quite cheesy rock/pop stuff like Jimmy Eat World and A Rocket to the Moon, and any band that sings about high school angst, that kind of thing. I’m also really into euphoric trance, like Armin Van Buuren and Above and Beyond. I also make trance tracks as a hobby.
TOV: If you could travel in time, would you go to the past or into the future?
JE: I’d go into the future, though not too far. Just far enough to see what the graphics look like on a Playstation 7!
About the Author
Joseph Evans grew up in Cardiff, South Wales, UK, where he spent his childhood playing video games and watching anime. Reluctant to read for a lot of years, it was his love of Japanese animation that got him hooked, as his mum saw the book jackets for Chris Wooding’s Broken Sky series and bought him the first one as a gift when he was fourteen. He had read the odd book now and again before, but had never been so enthralled and captivated as he was by Broken Sky. Soon he began devouring the rest of the teenage fiction shelves and was introduced to the life changing His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, and the masterpiece that is Harry Potter.
Joseph had always loved drawing and making music as a child, but with his new love of books, he began writing too, first short stories, then longer beginnings of novels. By the time he was sixteen, he had over a hundred pages written of a novel named The Unwanted Continent, but hadn’t planned the story beforehand, and became completely stuck (never mind being slightly distracted by his GCSEs).
At the end of sixth form college he began work on a second novel, Setasha, which he continued writing while at university studying Interactive Media. Ultimately his studies overshadowed the book (probably for the best, as he ended up with a 1st class!) and it suffered, once more, from a lack of planning.
On leaving university, Joseph got a job working part time in a bookshop alongside doing freelance CGI and visual effects for television shows and other projects. It was here amongst the books that he met the love of his life, Charlotte. When the recession hit, and visual effects work dried up, Joseph grabbed an empty notebook and said to himself ‘This is it. This is the time to write my novel.’ It took him six months, between bookselling days, to plan the novel that would become City of the Falling Sky, and a further year and a half to write it.
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005E8YZ2M
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005E8YZ2M