A post-Apocalyptic YA novel with a steampunk twist, based on an Apache legend.
Years ago, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen and her family lived in a world of haves and have-nots. There were the Ones — people so augmented with technology and genetic enhancements that they were barely human — and there was everyone else who served them. Then the Cloud came, and everything changed. Tech stopped working. The world plunged back into a new steam age. The Ones’ pets — genetically engineered monsters — turned on them and are now loose on the world.
Lozen was not one of the lucky ones pre-C, but fate has given her a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities. She hunts monsters for the Ones who survived the apocalyptic events of the Cloud, which ensures the safety of her kidnapped family. But with every monster she takes down, Lozen’s powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is not just a hired gun. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.
Wow. I mean. Wow.
Killer of Enemies is a knockout of a book. The post-apocalyptic world is hostile and full of genetically engineered monsters. No-one would stand a chance if they didn’t have a unique set of skills. Lozen isn’t a willing monster-hunter. Her family are held hostage every time she goes out of the compound on a mission from a One. But she does have what it takes to stay alive. More than that, she hopes and plans to one day free her family, and go back to the lands they know and loved.
Lozen herself is what makes this book. She is a warrior and a tactician. But she is also a daughter, and a sister. She keeps a lot of herself hidden from the Ones who rule the compound that keeps her family safe – well, safe from the monsters outside, anyway. So a lot of what we get to know about her through the first person narrative is hidden from everyone else. We are offered a unique perspective on this world, and it exceeds expectations.
Lozen is connected to her past and her traditions in a way I don’t think I’ve read before. In some ways, a lot of my recent reading has been about tradition and beliefs: Binti and When Dimple Met Rishi come to mind. But Killer of Enemies isn’t about uniting the old with the new. Lozen’s traditions are urgently relevant to her life now, and her history comes alive in a slow, mesmerising unfurling that captivates the imagination. It’s real.
But Lozen isn’t just acting for herself, or her family. As the novel moves forward, she begins to realise that something bigger than her is beginning. And she will need every bit of knowledge and history and skill to survive what comes next. Killer of Enemies is spectacular, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.
Lozen and her family are Chiricahua Apache, Native Americans. The author is Native American.