In the year 2050, a secret government study nicknamed Operation Source Code injects eight volunteers with a retrovirus. The goal? To abate the energy crisis by reprogramming human DNA to power personal electronic devices. The experiment works but with disastrous consequences.
Seventeen years later, Lydia Troyer is far from concerned with the energy crisis. Growing up in the isolated community of Hemlock Hollow, life hasn’t changed much since 1698 when her Amish ancestors came to America. She milks her cow by hand, bakes fresh bread every morning, and hopes to be courted by Jeremiah, the boy who’s been her best friend since she could walk.
But when Lydia’s father has a stroke and is taken to the outside world for medical treatment, Lydia and Jeremiah leave home to visit him. An ordinary light switch thrusts Lydia into a new world where energy is a coveted commodity and her own personal history makes her the most sought-after weapon on the planet.
Every once in a while a book just ends up being more. It gives you a whole new perspective. It makes you feel more, it makes you think more and it takes you on a totally different journey than the one that you expected. That’s exactly what kind of book that Grounded turned out to be, at least for me. Books with a Dystopian theme can go either way for me. In a lot of them the main characters start out in a very dark and hopeless place and the further they go, the darker and less hopeful things become. G.P. Ching’s venture into Dystopian took a totally different slant, at least for her heroine.
I absolutely adored Lydia from the time she was introduced. As sheltered as she was in Hemlock Hollow, and as ‘planned’ as her future seemed to be, she was still a strong, independent young woman – and not naive. She worked hard and she lived simply. She loved and cherished the people who were a part of her community and family. When she traveled with Jeremiah she should have been embarking on a right of passage, instead she was thrown into a new reality. The thing I admired about her though was that she never quite lost site of her true self. She thought she did, which made me respect her even more. She proved to be stronger than she ever thought she could be, and not just with her new found powers.
The rest of the characters in Grounded were just as developed and had just as much depth as Lydia. Lydia’s father was a loving man who went to great lengths to protect Lydia. Jeremiah lost a piece of himself along the way and I felt sorry for him in a lot of ways, but he also made me a little angry a few times as well. There were a few characters that G.P. Ching did a great job of masking. My feelings went back and forth with them, but I’ll let you discover them for yourself. I like it when an author can make a reader’s trust and loyalty change toward a character (either pro or con) and it’s totally unexpected. It happened more than once in Grounded.
And then there was Korwin…. Nothing prepared me for my feelings toward him. The undeniable bond between Lydia and Korwin was powerful. I loved his strength and the draw he felt toward Lydia. There was a sadness about him that never quite left him and his past was heart breaking, but he never quite gave in to it. They were opposites in so many ways, yet they were alike in just as many. Watching the bond between them was just one of the things that I loved about this book. I’m looking forward to seeing where this journey takes them.
It’s impossible (at least it was for me) to walk away from this book not being touched by the message the it evokes. That’s not uncommon in Dystopian books, but for some reason this message hit closer to home, so to speak. The Amish way of life is totally foreign to a lot of people. It’s not just about faith and living a simple life. Part of the lifestyle is cherishing the past, learning from it, embracing it and respecting it. There was one quote in Grounded that pretty much touches on that. Lydia is watching TV and there is a scene where a woman is watching her grandmother’s rocking chair being burned as a heat source – this was Lydia’s thought as she watched the scene:
“In the Amish world the gifts of the past are cherished and the gifts of each other, never sacrificed. How sad to give up your roots, a piece of who you are, for temporary comfort…”
There was also the aspect of the unknown that caused fear and prejudice. That fear went both ways and I think it’s going to turn into an interesting theme as well as provide a few more twists and turns as the Trilogy continues.
Yes, Grounded definitely ended up being much more than I expected. I found that’s nothing unusual for G.P. Ching. I’m still in the process of reading her YA Paranormal Soulkeepers series. If you’d like a taste of her writing before you pick up Grounded, you can start with the first book, The Soulkeepers, which is currently still FREE at Amazon. Regardless of which series you start with, I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed.