Published by Oxiana Road Publishing on December 21st 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: The Author
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A thriller set in 2025, in which teenager, Mateo Rivera, is in hiding as "Matt" in New York City where he must avoid capture by Mr. Rienham, the new chief of the Deportation of Latinos Agency, hand-picked for the job by President Trent himself.
But Matt isn't alone; he's got the Underground, an organization which advocates peaceful resistance. He’s been trained by the mysterious Underground leader, Polaris; harbored by reluctant shepherd and drop-out lawyer, Steve; and he has the not always helpful but well-intentioned support of his best friend, fifteen year-old, wannabe Navy Seal, Danni Singh.
Rienham, the DLA and its roving pack of DepoDogs aren’t Matt’s only problems. There’s a new enemy on the horizon, and it calls itself The Latino Alliance.
The idea of Latinos being outlawed and deported from the US should be an absolutely ridiculous notion that requires a person to suspend all disbelief if it wasn’t for the utterly terrifying situation happening with the US Presidential election this year. That’s enough about real life politics but it is interesting how timely Sheila Agnew’s THE EXCLUSION WARS really is and we see as the story unfolds how scarily easy people can be manipulated by propaganda.
Set in 2025, Matt Rivers was born Mateo Rivera but since the economic crash that led to the election of President Trent and the implementation of the Exclusion Order that deported people of Latin descent and caused others like Matt who can “pass” to do so, Mateo has had to hide in plain sight. Left by his mother with the Underground, a secret organisation determined to ensure the safety of Latinos, for his own protection, Matt has been passed along from one foster family to another as he desperately seeks information on his mother’s whereabouts. Mentored by Polaris, a good shepherd in the Underground, Matt does his bit for the cause, couriering messages whilst dodging Agents of the Deportation of Latinos Agency. When a self-styled resistance group called the Latino Alliance takes a more active and violent approach to the exclusion order, threatening all the good the Underground has achieved and stepping up the DLA’s clampdown, Matt and his friends must work to uncover those who would threaten any chance of progress.
Narrated by Matt, THE EXCLUSION WARS drops the reader right in the action and you really feel the tension as Matt constantly has to be on his guard in case the enemy is lurking around the corner. With plenty of twists and turns, the book is a solid thriller that will keep you on your toes, and doesn’t shy away from the tough questions and subject matter that you’d expect from such a controversial topic.
Matt is a great protagonist, he’s brave with a dry sense of humour and despite all he’s been through, is still able to find joy in simple pleasures like cooking for him and his guardian Steve. His friendship with Danni and Riley was another favourite part of the book for me and I really felt the teenage voices in this book rang authentic.
The world building was believable and I loved how detailed a society Agnew crafted, while never getting bogged down in the minutiae. The book overall flowed nicely, but did stutter slightly in weaker areas but overall THE EXCLUSION WARS was an entertaining, socially relevant book that incorporates themes of family, prejudice, terrorism, love and friendship with characters you can’t help but root for!
Tonyalee is an avid reader, gym junkie, coffee addicted workaholic, and blogger. Be sure to follow on Twitter & Instagram for random shenanigans.