NineRings created an intriguing paranormal dystopian story in After Dark: The Games of Cordella. It’s the year 4502, and a group of 47 teenagers are dropped in the Dark Zone. Their goal is to survive for two years. Immediately, it is easy to see they gave the wealthy a distinct advantage, with better supplies being provided. Levi, Tauri, and Kal are nobles but distance themselves from the power hungry group led by Morticus Warheister. Interestingly, a lone Graphique appears to be a survivalist and helps provide food to Levi after Morticus set up a communal food collection system where he determined how much each person was given by status. 17 participants are called lowlifes, as they were prisoners, or poor people who joined the Games to hopefully get a foothold into the military. They were successful in providing food, however Morticus gave them smaller shares. Most of the nobles didn’t contribute, and they would often bully the lowlifes for fun.
Levi finds he has an attraction to Graphique, and he admits he is gay. Kal admits he is as well. Graphique consistently provides food to the trio and never stays in the camp. One evening, Levi stumbles upon Graphique’s hideout. They eat together and end up spending an intimate night together. As another night sets, Graphique says a monster is going to attack. He leads Levi back to the camp, where a monster is attacking people and many of the tents are on fire. Graphique uses some sort of stones that make runes that attach to the monster, and it dies. 4 of the teens are dead from the attack. Levi wonders who Graphique really is.
This is an intense dystopian novel that deserves nothing less than a perfect score. It holds all the elements of suspense, romance, danger, and social issues drew me in. Every character is vividly described and the hardships they face are easy to envision. I hated the nobles as much as Graphique did. The story is highly unpredictable, and I hope a sequel will come available soon.