Malila of the Scorch
by W. Clark Boutwell
Indigo River Publishing

"We have chosen one among your own kind to act as a messenger."

This dystopian science fiction work imagines an America divided into three distinct peoples: the Unity, consisting of the east and west coastal areas, the Restructured States of America in the middle of the country, and the Scorch—intelligent vegetation which calls itself The People. The last of this three-book series begins when Malila, a young soldier of the Unity, escapes the cruel Commander Jourdaine when their plane crashes while he is taking her back to the Unity. After her rescue by Splanch of the Scorch, she becomes the messenger that will carry the news to America of the Scorch’s desire to join with the Restructured States in opposition to the Unity. As Malila recovers, her former captor—Jesse Johnstone, the American warrior—searches for her in the Scorch, where he encounters his childhood friend, Speaker, one of the People. Jesse and Malila are reunited and begin their journey to deliver the People’s message to America.

This imaginative novel in which plants have consciousness, armies are manned with zombie soldiers, and humans can enter a virtual, intelligent universe called the Core is filled with edge-of-the-seat adventure and delightful philosophical musings. Boutwell is a master storyteller who creates an intriguing, unique future that is both frightening and mesmerizing. His many characters include the intelligent, kudzu-like plants of the Scorch, the entities of the Core, and the humans who live in the Unity and the Restructured States of America. Though this is the last of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel with the first chapters including enough information through an old man’s re-telling of stories to give readers insight into the previous books. This science fiction offering is a wonderful imagining of a dystopian world which captures the imagination from beginning to end.

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