A Harvest of Thorns
by Mario Carini

"It was a world where he hoped more than justice prevailed; a world where people wouldn't fall to corporate profiteering and greed."

This is the story of two twin planets: Earth and Aquario Prime. Set several years in the future where space travel has been discovered, civilization on Earth is floundering. The land and its people have been ravaged by environmental destruction and corruption as Big Pharma has taken a hold on society and become a power practically immune to the government. Aquario Prime is destined to be the new home for Earth’s civilization. They’ve taken a clear, anti-pharmaceutical-drugs stance, leading to a prosperous, healthy population as well as a beautiful, well-maintained planet. But things aren’t as peaceful as they seem. Weapons smuggling, terrorist attacks, and a new virus outbreak cause complications for both planets and their governments. As the looming threat grows larger, the leaders of Aquario Prime must figure out a way to stop a carefully-orchestrated attack before it’s too late.

Part science-fiction and part political thriller, this debut novel is sharp and action-packed. It features great descriptive language that brings Aquario Prime and its citizens to life, as well as realistic and snappy dialogue for its more political scenes. The book tackles the issues of health care and government corruption, making a pointed stance of people over profits, and it exhibits this through singular chapters where average citizens lives are changed drastically due to prescription drugs. The author does a great job of maintaining tension and mystery throughout the book, as readers are surprised by the reveals throughout the story. Although additional editing would improve the book’s readability, the story is engaging, and the last chapter provides neat closure. Overall, it is a great read with an underlying inspirational message about taking back power.

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