Il 27 ottobre è uscito – in lingua inglese – un romanzo new adult sci-fi pieno di azione e di avventura che mi ha conquistata a partire dalla copertina realizzata da Alexandria Thompson of Gothic Fate. Poi l’ho letto, eh, non mi sono fermata lì e posso confermare che ci troviamo davanti ad un interessante distopico YA: siamo nel 2076 e seguiamo le avventure del Tenente Colonnello Nik Zhukov e quando non è impegnato a mantenere la sicurezza della Nazione, sventare attacchi terroristici e cercare di non saltare in aria, gli piace pensare di essere un semplice diciassettenne con il sogno di entrare nell’Elite delle forze militari, anche se ciò lo porta a vedere a che livello di corruzione morale siano arrivati i propri leader. Ma la prossima missione che si troverà ad affrontare non sarà quello che si aspetta, per una volta sarà costretto ad aprire gli occhi. Per approfondire la trama e i personaggi, nella mia tappa di oggi del blog tour, ho avuto il piacere di intervistare l’autrice. Ecco quindi i dati sul libro e l’intervista ad Amanda Cyr.
Lieutenant Colonel Nik Zhukov is just like any other desensitized seventeen-year-old living in the year 2076. At least he likes to think he is when he isn’t busy eliminating threats to national security, breaking up terrorist organizations, and trying not to get blown up. It’s all in a normal day’s work for one of the military’s top dogs, and he’s never disappointed. Never failed. Never lost sight of his dream of making it to the elite force, even as each new job forces him to see just how morally corrupt his leaders are.
On the verge of promotion, Nik is dispatched to the underground city beneath the icy Seattle tundra, his final mission handed down directly from The Council. It should have been a simple in-and-out, but the underground is full of dark secrets and he soon finds himself swept into battles, lying to his best friend back east, and growing a bit too close to the rebels he was sent to spy on.
Nik realizes too late that he’s broken the number one rule within his ranks; he’s allowed himself to feel normal for the first time in his life. He might be able to turn the job around, become the soldier he was once was, except for his growing attachment to the rebel leader. A guy. Yet another first for Nik. It’s a mistake he pays for dearly when he learns The Council’s true intentions for the city.
It’s never ‘just harmless fun’ when you’re a government dog, not when The Council holds the leash. Nik knows there are some lines you can never come back from crossing, and he’s forced to choose whose rules to play by. He races toward the invisible divide, aware he’ll be called traitor by both his nation and by his friends. Aware that even the right choice can be deadly to make.
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1. Thank you for your time! Zhukov’s Dogs is set in a future where Seattle in an icy tundra and people live underground. May you tell us more about this new world?
Happily! I’m a huge fan of apocalypse theories (except for the zombie-related ones), and a few years back I stumbled onto the concept of global cooling. There was a surprising amount of research about its likelihood, so I twisted facts with fiction to create a world where everything north of Des Moines is frozen over, including Seattle.
There’s an actual city beneath the Seattle you see today. The underground city was at ground level back in the 1800s, but the Great Seattle Fire prompted the city to rebuild two-stories above the underground, which was later condemned.
In Zhukov’s Dogs, the people who resided in upper-Seattle either moved south or retreated to lower-Seattle as their above-ground homes gradually became uninhabitable. By the time our main character, Nik, heads out west, upper-Seattle is abandoned and the residents of the underground have expanded on their hole in the earth, turning it into an industrial haven known for its metal exports.
2. In 2076 the world is populated by desensitized prodigy: who are they and why are they desensitezed (officially)?
Those would be the deadly boys and girls of the Youth Infiltration Division (Y.I.D.), which belongs to the Special Forces arm of the US military in the year 2076. They’re groomed into soldiers from an early age, and because their appearance easily throws off suspicion, they specialize in covert operations. Most of them have family in other branches of the military and a legacy they’ve been pressured into living up to.
Because of the tender age of these soldiers and the natural curiosity that comes with growing up, desensitization exercises play an important, reoccurring role in Y.I.D. training. These exercises are meant to snuff out fear, doubt, and disloyalty long before such unfavourable traits can take root. By doing this, the Y.I.D. is able to manufacture its operatives into perfect soldiers by the time they’re old enough to be transferred to another division.
3. The main character is Nik Zhukov: may you introduce us to him?
I’d love to! Unlike most Y.I.D. operatives, Nik wanted to enlist from the moment his high-ranking father started using Special Forces debriefings as bedtime stories. He’s curious, yet very critical of the world around him, borderline cynical even, but there’s nobody more determined to get the job done than Nik—regardless of casualties.
Eleven years can wear on a person, though, and by seventeen, Nik realizes he’s beginning to fade. He recognizes the different sides of himself – the one that thrives on tactics and peril in the field, and the one that just wishes it could fall asleep at night – and he knows how dangerous that is, especially when all he wants is to climb through the ranks of Special Forces like his father. Nik’s reputation and calculated façade are the only things keeping him from getting sent through a week of desensitization exercises, which only seem to get worse with age.
4. Liutenant Colonel Nik Zhukov is the perfect soldier: never disappoints, never questions the orders given to him—even as each mission further reveals how corrupt his handlers are but when, on the verge of promotion, is dispatched to the underground city, something changes because he meets the revolutionaries. Who are they?
The revolutionaries are a diverse group of young adults inhabiting the Seattle underground. Most of them were born and raised down there, and they’ve grown up watching their city suffer exponentially through an industrial era that has somehow been profitable for everyone but the people doing the manufacturing. Led by Val Grey, a sharp-tongued bastard, the revolutionaries strive to make life easier for the city’s inhabitants by robbing their governor blind, venturing into the upper city on supply expeditions, and redistributing all spoils to those in need.
5. Finally, I leave to you the virtual microphone if you want to add something important to the readers who are going to read your book.
Thank you all so much for picking up Zhukov’s Dogs! This book was a massive labour of love, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!
6. Thank you for this interview from Italy!
Thank you for having me!
Amanda Cyr is a tea-loving freelance journalist, viral content curator, and debut novelist. She studied creative writing at Seattle University, where she developed all sorts of opinions before becoming a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. She is currently represented by Kimberley Cameron of the Kimberley Cameron & Associates Literary Agency.
Growing up, Amanda moved around a lot. She began writing to make the transitions easier and make up for her lack of friends in middle school. An awesome professor in Medford, Oregon tried to convince her to pursue writing professionally, but Amanda was deadest on a law career. It wasn’t until an unpleasant professor in Seattle, Washington told her she was a terrible writer that Amanda really committed to the idea of getting published, mostly just to spite her professor.
When Amanda’s not hunched over a laptop she enjoys sleeping, video games, Netflix binges, and wrestling with her two polar bear dogs. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she spends her days hissing at the sun and missing Seattle. Her least favorite things include the mispronunciation of her name, screaming children, and California.
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