I’ve been a fan of Erin Bowman since I read her western novel Vengeance Road – fun fact, that was the first ever arc I owned, which I won in a Goodreads giveaway! I love her writing and world building and am excited to be apart of the Dustborn blog tour. Dustborn is out now!
Author: Erin Bowman
Genres: Dystopia, Sci-Fi
Release Date: April 20, 2021
Summary: Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.
Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her.
Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.
Dustborn is set in the distant future in a world that is dying. The land is dust. Water is scarce. Oceans have all but dried up. Dust storms come frequently. Crops can’t grow. It’s a dystopia world at its finest.
While I normally hate making comparisons, I have to say this story is perfect for fans of The 100 – I adored both the book and tv series, and if you liked either, you’ll love the vibes of Dustborn too. I also had slight LOST vibes, (but I’m a huge LOST fan and will try and relate everything to it).
Delta, our main character, knows life isn’t easy and does what she must to protect her (community) pack, and vice verse, they protect her. As children, Delta and Asher, another member of her pack, both received maps branded into the skin of their backs, the only two in existence, which leads to a paradise in the wastelands – the only problem, nobody can read the map.
While Delta is traveling to bring her sick sister to the healer, her camp gets raided and she returns to find dead bodies and the rest of her meager pack gone. Stakes are high in The Wastes and death is a real thing. We see our first death of a known character within the first 30 pages, and more swiftly follows, showing nobody is safe in this book. Delta sets off north to find help and find out what happened to her pack, only to be reunited with Asher and then kidnapped herself.
The world building in Dustborn is incredibly detailed. The map at the beginning of the book is a great reference point which I found myself flipping back to constantly, as every place on that map is mentioned or visited throughout the novel. Bowman really knows how to build up a world and make it feel real – the setting & the struggle of surviving another day.
This is a story of whoever can find paradise first will prosper and be the victor – its a race to read the map in a long forgotten language of the Old World, and most people are willing to do anything to get that map. This is a survival story, but also a story of family, both by blood and by choice – those in your pack are your family.
Delta felt like a well developed character, growing throughout the story, and sometimes making stupid choices – but we all do when those we love are at stake. While I was annoyed at her choices at times, they always felt like genuine choices in the moment and I can’t fault that. A character that has flaws and uses both her heart and her head is a character I like to read about.
“And besides, I don’t need kids to live. I don’t need to settle down with [redacted] – or anybody – to have my life mean something.”
This was one of my favorite quotes – living isn’t just about surviving and making a family. Life can mean something without having a child or a partner, and that quote rings true in real life as well. Don’t go into this one expecting much romance, when you’re struggling to survive, there isn’t much time to find love.
The plot had me guessing until the very end and I truly didn’t know what would happen, and I love when a story and its characters keeps me guessing. For just over 400 pages, this book was fast paced and never wasted a moment – there was a lot of story to tell. I can see why Bowman wanted this book to be a series of at least two books and I can feel that especially towards the ending. The ending was satisfying but felt a little rushed compared to the rest of the story.
Overall I really enjoyed Dustborn and couldn’t put it down! This is one you want to have on your radar and check it out if you like dystopia settings.
Thank you to The Book Terminal & the publisher for sending me a copy of Dustborn in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Make sure you check out the full tour schedule here.
About the Author
Erin Bowman is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books for children and teens, including the Taken Trilogy, Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails, the Edgar Award-nominated Contagion duology, The Girl and the Witch’s Garden, and the forthcoming Dustborn. A web designer turned author, Erin has always been invested in telling stories—both visually and with words. Erin lives in New Hampshire with her husband and children.