Review by Aidan Wilson
It isn’t often that I inhale a book in one sitting. Yes, there are times where I will easily lose an hour or two, and take a healthy chunk out of whatever novel it is that I am consuming, but it is rare for a story to grab me so completely that I go cover to cover (I did pause to go get a drink, but I don’t think that counts).
I am happy to report that is what occurred with “Resistance” by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky.
Resistance is set in a future dystopia, inhabited by people aligned to the four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth (The ever present threat of being compared to Avatar hangs overhead). Law and Order (Orthodoxy) is the rule of the day, and the citizens of Otpor are tightly controlled by the Fire aligned (Classic antagonists).
We meet Anaiya, the protagonist of the story, and one of the previously mentioned Fire Elementals, on her way to a reported domestic violence incident. Anaiya is a Peacekeeper, best of the best of the Fire Elementals, charged with (Surprise!) keeping the peace. Mikhaeyla does well with the internal workings of Anaiya at this point, from the outside looking in it is easy to see that there are issues with the Peacekeepers, but from Anaiya’s point of view, everything is justified.
Through Anaiya’s eyes, we see that Otpor is a grim, segregated city. Elementals tend to associate with similar Elementals, and the process of alignment (happening as a youth) actually affects the thought processes and drives of the person. Alcohol and mind altering drugs are used by all and sundry, and there is a general resentment at the class divides. Any resistance to the status quo, however, is met with crushing force.
Anaiya herself is wracked with doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Right from the first chapter she is pitting herself in competition with her partner, Niamh, and ruing the fact that she used to be faster than him (As an ex rugby player who occasionally still straps on the boots, I empathise). We learn that she has a Past (Capital P intended), and was previously partnered with the last Fire Elemental to be executed for Unorthodoxy. When she stumbles across a mural railing against the current doctrine (Unorthodoxy!), it begins a chain of events that completely changes both her, and her world view.
Now, this is one hundred percent a character driven story. The focus falls on Anaiya and her developing relationships with those in the Resistance, contrasting with her loyalties with the Peacekeepers. The Resistance itself seems to be a hotpot of conflicting characters, who seemed as liable to argue with one another as the Fire Elementals (Much like every Resistance in history, I am sure). I really felt for Anaiya at multiple points in this story, as she seemed trapped, bound to betray at least one party.
The world is more hinted at than defined in Resistance. Mikhaeyla gives us all the necessary information to get a gauge on how it all works, and then leaves the rest to be hinted at. I honestly couldn’t tell you much about Otpor, or it’s history, but it really doesn’t matter. The story is none the poorer for lacking a full blown history lesson, and I think actually helps with focus the narrative on Anaiya and the other characters.
When there are action sequences, they are tightly written and fast paced. The opening sequence with Anaiya free running to a crime is excellent, and I found that I could really envision her using parkour to run, climb and leap around the city. The combat, always hand to hand and vicious, was written extremely well. I find in some novels it is possible to lose the positioning of the protagonist (Seemingly teleporting through enemies to attack from behind), but there was no such issue in Resistance. Mikhaeyla treats the combat very similarly to the free running sequences, with Anaiya using her great agility and speed to surprise targets.
Overall, I found Resistance to be an excellent novel. Anaiya is a sympathetic main character, and come the end of the book I found myself really rooting for her. Resistance may be a slow burn, but an enjoyable one.
I am looking forward to reading more from Mikhaeyla Kopievsky in the future.
Resistance can be found at all good bookstores, or on Amazon