Heather Terrell’s Relic, the first installment in the Books of Eva series, is about the first girl in over a 100 years to compete in the Testing, a competition designed for the people of New North to find Relics, or items from the time before the world as we know it disappeared due to a flood. Eva’s brother Eamon has died and she decides to compete in his place. During the Testing, she uncovers a truth that could change the entire world New North has built.
Relic has a world that’s different from others seen in post-apocalyptic or fantasy worlds. New North is imitating the Middle Ages, what they consider the Golden Age of mankind. It is common in the fantasy genre, but Terrell adds a few elements to give it a little touch. New North people remember nothing of the world before the flood, but the Lex, the code that dictates every single aspect of their lives, teaches that the world flooded because the people had drifted away from the real gods: Earth, Sun and Moon. New North condemns technology and they send people to the Testing to recover artifacts and write about the to warn people not to do the same mistakes again. Short dresses are an abomination; mirrors stand for vanity. Computers are altars to the evil god Apple, the god mankind supposedly adored before the flooding. Someone spun history and religion to create this new set of beliefs for New North. It was interesting to see how these beliefs dictated every single aspect of the characters’ lives.
The actual setting was fascinating as well. The people of New North live among snow and ice; they don’t see any plants but evergreens here and there. It’s a frigid world and the tone of the book reflects it.
The book includes the use of words in Latin, which is considered a respectable language in New North. It was a nice touch for world-building, but several words used did nothing for the story because their meanings couldn’t be drawn from context. They started looking like words thrown into the story to show how different New North is from the world that was destroyed, but they added little to nothing to the storytelling.
The Testing is an interesting concept. The Testors will try to reach the frozen seas and find Relics. The one who finds the most precious one and can write a Chronicle or cautionary tale about it will become a Chief in New North. However, the Testing was a bland part in the book, partly because Eva is unbelievably lucky. Everything she does comes out right, regardless of the fact that she’s trained only 4 months while the other competitors have been training for the better part of their lives. It made their efforts seem worthless. Plus, her luck made it seem like there was no real danger going on despite the fact that they ran the risks of freezing to death or being eaten by wild animals.
Eva herself is not a very engaging character; she’s just telling the story but not feeling anything. This has to do with the writing itself, but it detracts from Eva’s character. I couldn’t connect with her. The same went with the other characters; it was hard to grasp at their personalities.
As for the story itself, it’s unique, but it’s so similar to The Hunger Games that it’s noticeable. There’s a competition for glory; there’s a love interest in it, and one staying home that helped her train. The protagonist excels, and then she finds out something about the government. While post-apocalyptic stories deal with governments and the secrets they hide, Relic is eerily similar to The Hunger Games in structure. It’s an enjoyable read, but the similarities pop up often.
Despite that, I liked Relic enough to want to read the next installment. I want to figure out what Eva will do with her knowledge, the changes that are occurring in her life and how this will affect the people of New North. If you liked The Hunger Games, you might consider giving this one a shot.
3 out of 5 stars
Mara Delgado Sanchez, the Young Adult Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in fiction. She draws inspiration from writers such as Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf and is an avid reader of young adult novels, science fiction, and fantasy.