Cadet Brewer is a military brat living in a “perfect” world. Or so it seems, until the oppressed Camp Countries’ leader, the Overlord, unleashes a deadly virus and changes the balance of power. Consumed by vengeance, Brewer vows to fight the Overlord’s New Order and volunteers to defend the last remaining stockpile of WMDs. But the base is attacked and Brewer, as the only survivor, unwittingly becomes the sole protector of Project: Pandora’s Box.
"Two different voices inside me fought to reply. 'Oh god!' said one. 'Revenge is mine!' said the other. Both were all too familiar. One threatened to paralyze me with fear and the other resurrected my bitter rage" (Marchand, 132).
Pandora's Box is a dystopian/apocalyptic war story following a young woman as she discovers who she is, and then has to rediscover it all over again.
The book starts off with a young woman sitting in a bunker, not knowing who she is, or where she is. We know she's exhausted, bored, and in need of something to keep her from going insane. So she picks up a red book that she has with her, and starts reading. She quickly discovers that the book is a journal, and is full of her memories.
I quite like the concept of reading your own story through a journal. This method of storytelling is hard to pull off, and Marchand did a good job with it. I think the creative way the story was told was what made it so interesting to me. Since I was reading about someone reading about themselves, I was more compelled to keep reading so I could find out what they were discovering. By the time the character was finished reading her journal, I was completely hooked.
The secondary characters complemented the main character nicely. We get to meet her father, her family, and her friends from the military all throughout the novel. We get so see just how this person was formed, how she came to be who she is, which I really enjoyed.
One thing I found to be a bit excessive and could have been done otherwise was the zombies. At first it really did feel as though Marchand added the zombies just for the sake of it. However, as we move on through the novel, we see that the correlation between the themes brought up in the story itself and the idea of zombies. I just felt the introduction was a bit sudden.
There were a lot of themes and messages in this book, including religious themes such as forgiveness, without being overbearing and taking over the story. We also explore the importance of being smart and tactical rather than vengeful. I appreciate that message, and the shift in motivation in the character's actions.
There's also a strong comment toward society's views and potential solutions when it comes to terrorism that are very coincidental with the current US president's thoughts and ideas to build a wall. This book was published in 2010 but works so well with the current political situation.
I'm so happy that this book didn't end with a 'everything is back to normal', typical happy ending. I won't spoil it, but it illustrates how it truly takes years and years for a country and even the world can recover from the damage that we have caused.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Pandora's Box was an interesting take on the current military and political climate, albeit unintentionally. It also has great characters and a strong message of self care. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Nathan Marchand is a young writer from northeastern Indiana. Born June 29, 1983, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he was homeschooled starting in first grade. He discovered his talent for writing in sixth grade English. He was given the assignment to write a “fanciful story,” so he crafted one about his toys coming to life and fighting each other. He enjoyed it so much, he wrote many sequels (he still has them all…somewhere). He eventually expanded into writing other stories and genres. He has wanted to write science fiction since his dad introduced him to the original “Star Trek” at age three.
His first novel, Pandora’s Box, was published in 2010 by Absolute XPress. He’s also the co-creator of the ongoing fantasy web serial, Children of the Wells.
When not writing, he enjoys other creative endeavors like photography, acting, and amateur filmmaking.