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High Stakes and High Hopes: A Review of “A Place Called Zamora”

This article was written by Rachel Shin.

A Place Called Zamora by LB Gschwandtner is set to be released on September 8, 2020: her eighth book to be published. Gschwandtner’s professional career began as an artist; then, in 1980, she became a magazine editor. Gschwandtner entered the world of fictional writing in 1986, which led her down a path studded with numerous awards in literary and independent publishing contests.

This first book of The Zamora Series is one to feel electrified about. On the surface, it revolves around a brutally-corrupt dystopian city (led by Premier Villinkash) with inhabitants who are crippling each day to survive. On the inside, Zamora’s journey stars two teenagers — Niko and El — who maneuver their way through the difficulties and horrors of their time to reach what they long for. Niko tends to express the hard-working and shrewd side of humanity. Meanwhile, El represents the kind, diligent side. Somehow, someway, the two help each other become whole. And despite pure and honest love between Niko and El, tough emotions and situations threaten to pull them into dangerous waters.

A 2019 banner for the release (via the author’s website)

18-year-old Niko is a boy who has escaped his dreadful prison six years prior. He is now respected by the people who scavenge to survive in the city named Infinius. Niko knows the ins and outs of the city, knows how the system works, and especially knows how the Regime controls others. In essence, Niko uses this acquired knowledge to navigate his way through life— if it could be called that— to reach his goal of surviving The Race, a battle to the death by Infinius’ chosen.

As Niko roams around Gschwandtner’s city of Infinius, El happens to come across him while she’s carrying on with her own priorities. El, as it turns out, causes Niko to end up adding her on his list of things and people he cares about. As El’s own interest in Niko increases, the Regime cracks down harder while the time of The Race draws nearer for the lovebirds. As they already know, only one rider may survive.

A headshot of Gschwandtner (via She Writes Press)

What I find extremely special about A Place Called Zamora is that Gschwandtner is set to release this story during a time when America continues to struggle with COVID-19. This book illustrates how gravely our society could crumble to devastating corruption but also offers hope. On her website, Gschwandtner states: “we have an opportunity to restore and revive the rule of law and the great goodness that is America. We all have a voice and this story is my way of making my voice heard.” This particular statement by the author makes me think of how Niko and El take matters in their own hands to make a difference when not many others do. Even with difficulties, this loveable, romantic duo manages to succeed, which inspires me to believe that we can do the same to better America and rise triumphantly out of this pandemic.

Since A Place Called Zamora seems to call for a powerful, epic journey in its continuation, I cannot wait for Gschwandtner’s many books to come.

 

A Place Called Zamora will be released on Sep. 8, 2020. You can pre-order it through Bookshop, IndieBound, or other book retailers.

 

Rachel Shin is a high school senior who loves to read and write. She received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Featured image via Goodreads

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