Saturday, January 14, 2023

Mandate Thirteen by Joseph J. Dowling - Book Tour & Review

Mandate Thirteen

by Joseph J. Dowling

Black Phoenix Book Tours

January 13-16

In a world with dwindling birth rates, all young women must submit to compulsory fertility checks at the age of thirteen. For those able to conceive, a docile existence inside the Birthing Schools beckons—far worse if they fall into the wrong hands.

When the clandestine Baby Farmers, and their brutal leader Miko, arrive to snatch his daughter, Michael must make a split-second choice: risk his own freedom to protect hers… or lose her forever. Mandate Thirteen is a gritty dystopian thriller for fans of Children of Men, A Handmaid’s Tale, and The Running Man.

“An action-packed, cross-country adventure between father and daughter as they dodge authorities, reconnect with old acquaintances, and meet new people (good, bad, and crazy), forging connections at every stop. I loved every aspect of their journey and how they learned so much about themselves on the way. This is dystopian in every way that matters. A worthy addition to any library.” Preye, Literary Darlings

See the book on Amazon here.

My Review
Mandate Thirteen is a dystopian novel set in the UK. Extreme Christians have taken over the government and have set forth some very strict rules every citizen must follow. 
The story follows a down-on-their-luck family as they go about their normal lives. Well, normal for them. Dad Michael is unemployed and seemingly having no luck finding a job. His wife is barely making enough to scrape by. And his daughter seems indifferent to everything that's going on. But that all changes when Mandate Thirteen is passed. Any female aged thirteen (and up) must be checked for fertility. Seeing as most of the female population is infertile, anyone who can have children is highly sought after by the Baby Famers and Birthing Schools. And when Michael's daughter is sold out by her mother after she tests positive for fertility, Michael goes on the run with her to do whatever it takes to keep his little girl out of the government's clutches. But Miko, a Baby Farmer, will stop at nothing to track them down. It soon becomes a race against time to the Scottish border, where Michael and his daughter will be safe. Will they make it before Miko catches up to them?
This was a very intense dystopian thriller. The world is very bleak and depressing, even more so if you're female. The story has some serious Handmaid's Tale vibes, but also feels similar to the Eve trilogy by Anna Carey. I found myself flying through this book because I couldn't put it down. I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of it, and I was tentatively optimistic that things wouldn't end on a hopeless note. While I was a little bit annoyed by the ending (it wasn't bad, but I wished it had ended differently), the overall story is a riveting journey through a joyless, desolate world, where what seemingly little hope the characters may have seems to be dashed at every opportunity thanks to the unrelenting determination of the Baby Farmers. 
Mandate Thirteen is a tense, taut thriller that will leave you angry while also feeling relieved that our world hasn't fallen so far off the mark just yet. With characters you can root for (or against), a quick pace, a real world you can picture yourself in, and a plot that will hold you hostage until the very end, this is one book you need to read this year.
4.5 stars!

About Joseph J. Dowling

Joseph has pursued many interests and diverse career paths, always knowing he would write seriously one day. In 2020, now owner of a small but previously thriving chain of retro arcade bars temporarily shuttered due to Covid-19, he fell into an obsession.

Since finding the passion, Joseph can't imagine life without the stories constantly rattling around his head. Eager to make up for lost time, he's in the habit of writing every day, becoming a keen student of the craft.

His stories feature in several anthologies, including Unsettling Reads' "Summer Bludgeon" and "Worlds Collide" by Nordic Press. He will also appear in Night Terror Novels' upcoming "Nerve Janglers". Even better, his rejections seem to be getting nicer by the week.

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