Reading Day Moon by Brett Armstrong was like looking into our future. Never mind that the story was set in 2039, the characters reveal the same passions of love, distrust and longing for God's guidance when their lives were in jeopardy as the same way we acknowledge the trust we look for in today's world.
Armstrong sets the setting by giving brief details of everyday life, such as the way cars have transformed so travel was safer and lives were no longer in danger of accidents. The most important change was scanning all print materials into a program and then destroyed, called Project Alexandria which was designed by Elliot's grandfather who just happened to have died in the only car crash of that time.
Seventeen year old Elliot is now programing Project Alexandria but discovers subtle discrepancies popping up at alarming rate. From here on in we are discovering multitudes of clues, packed with devastating consequences. Elliot realizes his feelings are growing for fellow student Lara as this race for solving why the government is determined to acquire and possible destroy particular works of classic fiction.
The extremely fasted past roller coaster of events continues to rattle our emotions as waves of excitement and continual twists and turns shake our thoughts of just who can be trusted and what surprise are we going to find next.
This story is woven with the fact that it was a rarity to be a believer, and that believing in God was foolish, but author Armstrong equips Elliot with the knowledge that God does exist and knows that He is there when help is needed.
The reality of Armstrong's writing left me totally exhausted in a good way after reading this book. I sincerely mean this as a compliment to the author as I compare Armstrong along side of Dan Brown of the Da Vinci Code, and the movie National Treasure.
If you are looking ahead at our possible future, you might have just found it.
Day Moon tackles an interesting "what if" situation: What if all printed works were digitized, only for the government to decide what each work really was all about rather than actually reading the original writing and coming to your own conclusions about it?
That's the situation the main character, Elliott, faces in Day Moon, when he recognizes a version of Shakespeare's works his grandfather left behind does not match what is entered into the government database, a digitized compilation of all writings dubbed "Project Alexandria." I liked the concept because it begs the question about who decides what when it comes to writings that have been passed down from generation to generation and what gets lost along the way.
As for the main character, I liked how Brett never keeps people guessing as to what Elliott is thinking at any given moment and how his character stays mostly consistent, though he must learn about who in his life can or can't be trusted. Elliott's Christian beliefs are made clear, but it's never done in a preaching manner, but more about what Elliott thinks for himself.
There were a few spots in which I though the pacing was a bit off, and a couple of times in which the writer seemed to stray away from Elliott's POV and lapse into another persons, but I chalk those up to how a writer tries to show emotion from a non-POV character and might not always hit the mark.
Those weak spots do not detract from the story, though. It's not only an enjoyable read, but one that makes you think, regardless of your religious and/or philosophical beliefs.
Young Adult Dystopia is quite popular with young children today. Some of the books are pretty good like Melanie Dickerson's Fairy Tale remakes, and some are awful like Hunger Games and Twilight. I'm always on the lookout for books that will capture the mind and imagination of my young boys. Luckily, with debut author Brett Armstrong, with his first published piece Day Moon, the first book in his Tomorrow's Edge Trilogy, I think I found a good book to pass on to my teenage sons.
The first thing I pay attention when reading a novel by a debut author is their ability to write a clear and concise story without allowing me to turn on my grammar Nazi skills. Armstrong does a good job at staying in Elliott's perspective for the entire novel. I can't recall anytime that he had head hopped. He does a good job at showing Elliott's emotions, allowing me to empathize with him as he struggles with his emotions and running from the law. Similarly, Elliott does a good job at showing the scenery for me. Although a couple of times, I think he wrote too much description, and I wanted to move on. While other times, Armstrong did such a great job at inviting me into the future with his description and staying true to the setting that I forgot I was reading a futuristic novel.
Day Moon is an unpredictable novel with a unique story. I really enjoyed how this takes place in a world where, supposedly, all the knowledge from books is uploaded to a massive computer. The original idea reminded me a lot of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, where reading books were banded. In Armstrong's story, reading books weren't forbidden, but the people had to seek their information from Project Alexandria's massive database, which allows the tension in the story to flow. The story centers around finding puzzles in seven physical copies of books that his grandfather had buried and hidden from the eyes of the government. The pace of the novel moved quite rapidly. Once Elliott broke the law, he was on the run, so Armstrong had me running alongside him as he ran to uncover his grandfather's puzzles. I really had a hard time putting the novel down because Armstrong would leaving the characters in a tight situation at the end of a chapter, begging me to keep reading. The story centers around finding puzzles in seven physical copies of books that his grandfather had buried and hidden from the eyes of the government.
There is a little bit of romance between Elliott and Lara. It is a teenage love from a teenage's perspective. A little hand holding and a light kiss while on the run. Nothing I wouldn't allow my fifteen-year-old son to read.
While Armstrong does create a Christian character in Elliot, he doesn't preach at the audience. Instead he allows Elliott to find comfort in his belief in God. The way a character should be written.
One downside to the novel is that Armstrong does what a good writer should do to end his novel: He left the ending unresolved. I know what the characters had to do, but I have to wait for the next book to come out. Can't wait to read the next two books and see what trouble Armstrong allows Elliott and Lara to get into.
Overall, with a twist of National Treasure and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Brett Armstrong's debut novel, Day Moon, kept me guessing as I rushed through the story alongside Elliott and Lara as they tried to figure out why they were being chased by their government. Armstrong delivers with first-rate characters and a wild ride to hunt for the ultimate truth. Highly recommend. Not to be missed.
I received a complimentary copy of Brett Armstrong's Day Moon from Brett Armstrong, but the opinions stated are all my own.
The author asked me to review Day Moon as he felt I would enjoy it as it is similar to a novel I recently reviewed. The description grabbed me so it was not a difficult choice to make. Day Moon is not his debut novel: he has a previous one, Destitutio Quod Remissio. This novel is in a totally different genre, Historical Fiction, while Day Moon is the Science Fiction & Fantasy and Futuristic genres.
Looking at just these genres, it shows that this author has diversity in his writing talent. Destitutio Quod Remissio won the 2013-2014 CrossBooks Writing Contest. Admittedly, I have not read this book (I plan to, despite that fact that I don't read historical fiction) but it has enough merit to meet the criteria for this win. I am not surprised at his win as reading Day Moon shows this author has flair for writing and one that he does well.
Apart from this, Armstrong has created a well-developed plot. No peaks or troughs, just a steady pace that keeps you coming back for more. I was kept guessing about what was going to happen next as Armstrong unfolds the next plot development. Armstrong is careful to not provide too much information along the way that would only serve to derail these developments. Just enough to support the events that are happening at the time or what is going on with the characters.
Some novels are plot driven while others are character driven. Not sure if there is a fine line between the two or even if there should be, but for me, I found this novel to be very character driven. In saying that, I am by no means saying that this is a weakness or that I prefer plot driven structures. I enjoy both. In Day Moon, it is all about Elliot and how he reacts to being plunged into the betrayal, deception, and intrigue of those behind Project Alexandria and even those in his own party. The events of the plot and the backdrop of the futuristic society and its technology only serve as a platform for Elliot to solve the mystery set out by his grandfather to shut down this Project.
When a protagonist has both Federal Government agents and those within his own party being deceptive, betraying him and derailing his attempts to do this, it is not surprising that this novel succeeds by being character driven and focussed on the main protagonist. All this does is endear the reader to Elliot and engage the reader's full attention and support for this character and what he has set out to achieve. You empathise with his despair, doubt, frustration, rejoice when he successfully problem solves and even chuckle at the awkwardness of budding romance (maybe this bring back memories!). You rejoice when his faith in God increases and when he takes a stand for God and Truth. The same applies when he learns to trust God more during the events that are set in motion to thwart him.
Romance always succeeds in softening any action and adventure, mystery and suspense plot line while at the same time strengthening it. And so it does in this novel. I am not a romance reader but when this an author includes it as a subplot, I enjoy it and so I did in this novel. I love romance being written by male authors, maybe I relate to romance from the slight male perspective nuances that a male author includes intentionally or unintentionally. Maybe the romance here is depicted without the degree of sickly sweetness that is in some female-authored romance genres! Armstrong has depicted young romance in all its awkwardness and joy as realistically as I have experienced it and expect it to be. Maybe he is drawing on his own experiences which is a wise thing to do as an author. Write what you know!
One thing I have picked up from reading this novel and investigating the author's background is that he has a passion for writing. This shows in everything to do with this novel's construction. This is also shown in the development of the clues placed by Elliot's grandfather for him, John and Lara to discover and decipher. I know from an interview the author was in that he loved Shakespeare in high school. It is no surprise then, that this novel is influenced by Shakespeare. Armstrong even created a Shakespeare like sonnet, Day Moon, which this novel pivots around. This is also a major clue to the shutting down of Project Alexandria. It is why those behind this project together with the Federal Agents want this sonnet destroyed and seek Elliot for it. Unbeknownst to both these parties, there are Christian classics, (Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim's Progress, Mere Christianity, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Chronicles of Narnia) that contain further clues and information to do this. It seems some of these latter books form part of the plot for the two remaining novels in this trilogy.
It is quite a feat to compose a sonnet in true Shakespeare-like fashion. While I am no expert on this famous classical author, it appears that Armstrong's motivation for this sonnet is to be a tribute to Shakespeare. He even composed this sonnet in the iambic pentameter method that Shakespeare used. This is defined as
"A commonly used type of metrical line in traditional English poetry and verse drama. The term describes the rhythm that the words establish in that line, which is measured in small groups of syllables called "feet". The word "iambic" refers to the type of foot that is used, known as the iamb, which in English is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. The word "pentameter" indicates that a line has five of these "feet".
Iambic pentameter is the most common meter in English poetry; it is used in many of the major English poetic forms, including blank verse, the heroic couplet, and some of the traditional rhymed stanza forms. William Shakespeare used iambic pentameter in his plays and sonnets."
I featured Brett Armstrong in an Author/Novel Spotlight post on my blog recently. I was impressed by his reasons for the spiritual themes that he included,
"I feel like as western society moves further from toleration of Christianity, Christians need some encouragement to stand against the tide. I feel very strongly that what we read and watch can and will influence how we behave in our real lives, so Elliott really struggles to do just that. He knows resisting the current is far from the easiest path available to him and that it could well end in his death, but he persists. And he does so following clues left by his grandfather whom he knows well, but cannot communicate with face-to-face to know he’s right about what he’s doing. Elliott has doubts about himself, his grandfather’s intentions, whether all of it is worth it. It’s somewhat like how we interact with Christ. We know Him and have guidance He has left for us, but most of us will never get to look into His eyes this side of eternity and draw our reassurance from there. We have to walk by faith and Elliott, from one terrible setback and betrayal to another, has to choose to keep pressing forward.
There are some other allusions as well. Project Alexandria hearkens back to the world just before the Tower of Babel dispersion. The temptation to pursue a desired cause without considering the consequences is a huge theme of the book and the creation of Project Alexandria by Elliott’s grandfather is reminiscent of Adam and Eve’s fall."
Armstrong certainly portrays these themes and I hope he continues to include these and others in future novels. I appreciated Elliot's short prayers of help and guidance interspersed throughout the novel when he, Lara, John and company were attempting to decipher these clues and thwart their pursuers. This reflects the Christian's response to the nature of this fallen world, in all its good, bad and ugly forms. It also shows that we are to be reliant on God and not on our own strength.
I wondered why this novel was called Day Moon. I knew the author had a reason for it, especially since he composed the sonnet. Not a very attention grabbing title. Apart from this sonnet being one of the clues to Project Alexandria, I thought throughout reading the novel that there would have to be more to it than just this. I wondered if it had any spiritual message or theme. When my wonder was confirmed I was blown away by its simple truth but deep meaning, but also dumbstruck at how easily it would be to miss this or just not realise it all together. I applaud Armstrong for this message and outlining its importance. It has real meaning in today's world where everything is being redefined or truth suppressed and distorted. This is what Christian fiction can do, not just entertain but outline the truth of the Gospel or what is currently happening in the world we live in. It seems that the message behind the definition of what Day Moon is, ties in directly with the reason Armstrong wrote this novel that he outlined in the Author/Novel spotlight post I mentioned above.Too long to include in this review.
For a debut instalment in a new series, this novel sets a really good foundation for a very enjoyable future. I look forward to the above themes, plot structure and characters being developed further and even the spiritual involvement such as prayer, use of the Word from the characters, with hopefully more obvious involvement from God or the Spirit being included as well. I say this as there is great potential for this to enhance this type of plot.
Strongly Recommended. 4/5
“Day Moon” follows a teen’s discovery of a sinister plot that threatens the world’s reality
Charleston, WV, March 28, 2017 – West Virginia author Brett Armstrong raises a timely warning in his dystopian thriller, “Day Moon,” about where current trends could lead if left unchecked.
The year is 2039, and 17-year-old computer prodigy Elliott is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found.
Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure: a book of Shakespeare’s complete works gifted him by his grandfather. Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled “Day Moon.” When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose.
Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Along the way, Elliot questions what is real and about truth, relationships and the meaning of freedom and security.
Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depend on it.
“’Day Moon’ grabs the reader by the imagination and doesn’t let go! I daresay it’s a classic in the making.” – Robert Walker, author of “Random Violence, Killer Instinct”
About the Author: Brett Armstrong is an award-winning author of Destitutio Quod Remissio, a story about the struggles of a Christian Roman senator. All profits from sales of the book were donated to charity. The author lives in St. Albans, West Virginia, with his wife and 2-year-old son.
For Brett Armstrong, the most exciting part of writing is the adventure he feels during the process.
“I like to think writing novels is like being a pioneer, trekking through unexplored mountains,” Armstrong, author of the recently released book Day Moon, said. “You’re moving from point A to point B, and you can see peaks, which are the major high points of the story, but it’s the journey between those peaks as you pass through forests and follow rivers—that’s where a lot of the excitement lies.”
Day Moon, released on March 28, is a dystopian young adult novel about a 17-year-old prodigy assigned to work on a global software initiative that will make all human knowledge accessible to the public online, but destroys all print materials in exchange.
The WVU graduate was inspired to write Day Moon while in his creative writing capstone.
“If anyone from WVU reads Day Moon, it should be fairly easy to catch the University and Appalachia’s influence on elements of the setting,” Armstrong said. “I’ve always felt like Appalachia represents that clash between an older world not going quietly into the good night, no matter how pressed by the new it becomes. So it all seemed to fit very naturally.”
Armstrong said his first inspiration to be a writer came from reading books in his hometown library in West Virginia. Then it was the view of the University’s downtown library, lit up in the rain, that initially inspired him to write the first scene of Day Moon.
Although Armstrong attended WVU as a computer engineering student, he said he didn’t feel passionate about his courses and eventually added a minor in creative writing, a hobby which had always felt different from his other interests.
“It’s not about getting famous or becoming wealthy or even gaining a career as a novelist,” Armstrong said. “I’m very much convinced fictional writing can shape how we feel and respond to the real world, so I want to write things that are meaningful. If it can impact one person’s life for the better, then it is all worth it.”