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Levi Rogers
Author
Utah! A Novel
Levi Rogers, author
Fleeing from ever present wildfires and the threat of the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting, Lee, Becca, and their daughter Analise embark on a road-trip through the state of Utah to a wedding in Zion National Park. Set in the not-too-distant-future, Utah! is a novel about climate change and the intricacies of relationships—between family, partners, religious structures, nature, and the American West. Featuring a litany of intriguing Utah residents including ex and current Mormons, doomsday preppers, military vets, Presbyterian ministers, and Colombian housewives, these characters eventually find their paths crossing in violence, disaster, and friendship. Through desert islands, climbing gyms, beer bars, suburbia, mountains, coffee shops, long drives, and mass shootings, Utah! seeks to show the true diversity, beauty, and yes, sometimes peculiar, aspects of one of the most misunderstood states. It’s a novel about the smoldering darkness beneath the surface of our individual selves and society … and what happens when we refuse to acknowledge our past transgressions. Utah! is a slow burn of a novel that ends with an explosive finish.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: This thought-provoking novel captures a reader's attention with its timely subjects and compelling characters, and keeps them on the edge of their seats throughout. The plot points are believable, well-structured, and, most importantly, honest in their depiction of the various shades of gray inherent in every issue. This novel is engaging from start to finish.

Prose/Style: Rogers's prose is sophisticated and flows relatively well, with few hiccups. The alternative POV format works really well for the novel's theme and storyline. The dialogue is realistic, and even the internal monologue of an unlikable character is believable. The depictions of Utah—both the state's physical landscape and its cultures/traditions, including the Mormon religion—are well-written and informative without being didactic.

Originality: Rogers's timely and engaging novel doesn't shy away from questioning the big issues of today and how the Mormon and evangelical religious faiths are responding to them. Using the threat of a natural disaster as the catalyst that informs the various plot points and characters' actions is smart and works really well at creating a truly entertaining and enlightening novel.

Character Development/Execution: Divided up by chapters, each belonging to the voice of a different character, this novel does a wonderful job giving each a distinct voice. Their motivations and true concern about the questions inherent in both religion and life in general are genuine, believable, and thought-provoking.

Date Submitted: August 21, 2021

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