by Joel Ohman
Published: September 9th, 2014
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Dystopian
Recommended Age: 14+
The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment–to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.
But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn’t an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing–not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science–is going to stop him.
Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn’t possibly have bargained for…
BONUS Original Artwork – 17 original chapter illustrations that precede each of the 17 chapters: Bion (Bull-Lion), Scorpicon (Scorpion-Falcon), Chimpanzelle (Chimp-Gazelle), and more!
Meritropolis – Joel Ohman
The rustling grass shone golden in the sun, caressing Charley’s fingers as he parted his way through the immense field. The waist-high stalks whispered warnings in the wind.
Grigor had taken them this far. Now they were on their own.
Charley felt safe enough traversing the countryside behind Grigor’s muscular back; it was quite another thing to be the one cutting the trail, come what may. Grigor had led them along this path, skirting the woods they had been in just yesterday to hunt. Today, he deposited them in this same enormous tussocky grass field, on the other side of which was the last location bion tracks had been spotted.
Something up ahead smelled of death. Fresh coppery blood wafted on the summer breeze; the contrast between the idyllic view and the necrotic scent gave Charley the chills. It didn’t help that he couldn’t see anything from his waist to his toes because of the hay that rustled continuously. Whether that was because of the wind or something more ominous prowling close to the ground, Charley had no way of knowing.
At least the small group of Charley, Sandy, and Hank were better equipped than yesterday. Charley himself had twin swords strapped between his shoulder blades, plus a wicked little crossbow in a sling. His neck was already starting to chafe from the sling’s continual friction, but it was worth it. The smooth contours of the crossbow gave him a sense of power every time he let his hand wander down to touch it, which was often. He felt as if he had a security blanket made of deadly carbon fiber.
Charley had read about guns from the Old Days and had even seen one or two, but a lack of ammo or the tools to make it after the Event, meant that crossbows and blades were the deadliest weapons available in Meritropolis. And the way Grigor had handed the crossbow to Charley before parting gave him the distinct impression that this was Grigor’s personal weapon. A gift not likely sanctioned by Commander Orson, but one Charley already felt might save his life.
Charley reached the end of the field and climbed the crest of a small hill patchworked with yellowish sand, sedimentary rocks, and scrub grass. The smell of blood was now overwhelming.
He paused with his front foot resting on a slate gray rock and looked over his shoulder at Sandy and Hank.
They both looked at Charley expectantly.
There was only one way to go. Up.
Charley put a finger to his lips and motioned for them to inch up the hill slowly. He could hear something in the distance.
Bear-crawling upward, Charley with the crossbow hot, and Sandy and Hank with their blades drawn and ready, they neared the peak of the grassy bluff. A cacophony of raucous whoops assailed their ears.
Peering over the edge, Charley immediately saw the reason for the absonant noise and the blood stench on the wind.
There was a herd of at least 50 creatures, maybe more, caterwauling and prancing around the remnants of a large carcass of some kind, mostly picked to the bone. The creatures sounded like monkeys, but they looked much more graceful. The animals cavorted energetically around a dry dust-bowl of a valley, alternating between what seemed to be almost ritualized fighting behavior and fastidious grooming of their neighbors.
“Chimpanzelles,” Sandy said in his ear.
Charley turned to look at her, hoping for more information.
Joel Ohman is the author of Meritropolis–“The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist”. He lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion is Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries.
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
- $50 Amazon gift card (INT)
- 3 x Stuffed Animals (US)