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Degrade by Mark Lingane

Degrade (Tesla Expansion, #1) by Mark Lingane

An awesome young adult dystopian tale of power-grabbing and political intrigue set in Western Australia based on the Tesla Evolution series.

Arid Geiger, a teenage 'diviner' on his own, is minding his own business developing data on a possibly viable aquifer when he gets caught in the middle of a battle between the two megaRigs, the Lady Moonshine and the Rankin. With one swing of the Rankin's mighty attack beam, his small dowser is destroyed and he's dumped onto the burning sands surrounded by monstrous stick crawlers. Saved at the last moment by Ella, a girl from the Moonshine, Arid meets the Moonshine's commander, Queen Bea, Ella's mother, who promises to have his dowser repaired so he can get back in business. But as they speak, Bea sees the pendant around Arid's neck and realizes he's the son of some old friends that she'd once been close to and that Arid holds the key to controlling their harsh society and a peace they've not seen in many years.

This is a spin-off from the original Tesla Evolution series also by author Mark Lingane, and to fully enjoy this new story, readers should probably begin there. However, there was more than enough for me to love right here in Degrade! (Disclaimer: I may love this way more than some because I was a water quality/water conservation educator for several decades.)

Lingane has developed an awesome dystopian world set in Western Australia where water is limited and 'diviners' make a living by locating viable aquifers deep beneath the surface of the Earth and selling the data of what they find to the megaRigs: huge, metal, moving cities, remnants of past mining operations that survived an apocalyptic tsunami many years before the current action.

One of these 'diviners' is the orphaned teenager, Arid Geiger, an absolutely engaging character. (And is that not the most awesome name in a water-scarce world?) As a teenage character and one that has spent much of his life isolated from other people, it was amusing and endearing, to see his reactions to meeting Ella and Frey, the daughters of Queen Bea, one he was instantly attracted to, the other not so much.

In addition, the harsh environment is almost a character unto itself and Lingane's descriptions and use of the setting let me feel the heat, the grit, the fear, and the desperation of it. There are deadly creatures that inhabit the sands (of course, this is Australia!) and they do not disappoint for anxiety-inducing situations and reading. Once again, when the stick crawlers attacked, I could imagine the terror, and this added just that little bit more oomph to the threat to characters that left the shelter of the megaRigs.

The plot is constantly moving forward with multiple characters and subplots in action. I liked the complexity and the stories within the story, the multiple points-of-view. Because this was my introduction to this world, there were many unfamiliar aspects so I had to pay attention to keep things straight. And not knowing the past history, I felt I was in a similar state of mind as the main character, Arid, himself. It was all fast-moving, no dull moments, many surprises, so I'd call this one a definite page-turner.

I certainly recommend this book but those that are familiar with the Tesla Evolution will derive the most enjoyment. The language is clean and this may be suitable for younger readers that parents feel can handle the monsters in the desert and some of the more intense scenes. Degrade is available at most online retailers, such as Amazon, in paperback ($3.42) and ebook format ($2.99). 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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