‘Scorched’ book review

Parker Reed

“Scorched” is a post apocalyptic young-adult novel and is the first publication from UCLA alum Michael Soll, who also self-published the book.

“After a solar flare scorched the Earth and incinerated the atmosphere, survivors dug deep beneath the surface,” explains the back of the paperback copy of Scorched.

The novel takes place hundreds of years after the solar flare destroyed the surface of the Earth. Spec is a 16-year-old boy who is fed up with everyday life in the colony, which consists exclusively of mining for clay and insects, and longs to see the surface of the Earth.

When this dream takes over Spec’s patience, he recruits his best friend Cotta to accompany him to the surface. While sneaking out of the colony, the two are reluctantly joined by a girl of the same age named Kaolin.

One thing that Scorched does very well right off the bat is establishing the world that we are presented. The novel establishes a real sense of self for the colony and some of the inhabitants of it.

A key word of that last sentence is ‘some.’ While Spec and the main group of characters get their time to develop and flesh out, most others do not get past the introduction stage.

If there is one main flaw in the novel, it’s that it “tells” and doesn’t “show” what is happening that often. In other words, many things that should be explained thoroughly are not, and vice versa.

For example, important characters, like Spec’s father, will receive a few sentences of development while a quick rock, paper, scissors like game will receive a few paragraphs to firmly explain how it’s played once and then is not referenced again.

However, considering the target audience of this novel, this probably isn’t a dealbreaker.

The main focus is the adventure and the pure spectacle of experiencing it from a young adult’s perspective. And readers around the age of the main characters might just find a lot of enjoyment from it.

Overall, while Scorched may have its flaws, it’s an adventure that the young adult audience will likely enjoy and is an exciting debut from an author who has a great deal of potential for crafting engaging stories.