Monthly Gem: “Time Zero” By Carolyn Cohagan

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Title:  Time Zero

Genre:  Dystopian

Age category:  Young Adult

Release Date:  May 16, 2016

Descriptive Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Mina Clark lives in a future Manhattan that is ruled by extremists. Girls aren’t allowed to get an education, they need permission to speak to boys, and all marriages are negotiated by contract. But Mina’s grandmother has secretly been teaching her to read, leading Mina down a path of rebellion, romance, and danger that not only threatens to destroy her family’s reputation, it could get Mina killed.

Suspenseful and empowering, Time Zero is about what it’s like to be powerless, underestimated, and manipulated and what it takes to go against society to assert who you actually want to be.

 

Accolades for ‘Time Zero’:

“8 New Books That Could Be the Next Hunger Games” BookBub

“Best New YA Books for Summer” Seventeen Magazine

“Summer Picks” – Austin American Statesman 

“Best New Releases of May” – Independent Publisher

***’Time Zero’ will be the featured eBook deal in BookBub’s highly selective program August 18th thru August 25th, during which Time Zero’s eBook version will be discounted to $0.99.

Review

“Semi-Precious Bling.”

My Impressions:  This book is like a Soap Opera…set in biblical times.  The genre is hard to pin down…not fantasy, because honestly the world that is built is more historical (or present day in some countries) than fantasy or fiction.  It has a medieval/biblical type feel to it.

The Romance Angle:  Niiice teen romance.  Their relationship is sweet and clean, just the way it should be.  The love happens a little quick, but we’re talking about a society where girls are sold into marriage at 15 (sometimes to middle-aged men), so, I don’t think its altogether odd that Mina would attach herself to (basically) the first decent male that she meets.  Plus, there is a believable chemistry and some nice (if awkward) interactions between the two.  And they themselves acknowledge and discuss some of the same issues that I mention here, showing a level of maturity that makes me think they’re on the right track…and will make it as a couple.

The Real Lowdown:  I liked this book.  Written in first person, which I have issues with, but  here, the author avoids all the usual pitfalls of 1st person narrative, so I can’t complain.  The main characters are highly relate-able though they are living in a world that is totally different from the one I occupy.  But I remember that high school awkwardness, the self-conscious nerves that seized me whenever I was faced with new people or unfamiliar social situations (parties, dances, new crush, first kiss etc.)  ….All of that good stuff is here.  The storyline is bouncy and though at times serious, there is a lightheartedness to it that keeps things from becoming oppressive or depressing (as is sometimes the fate of dystopian tales).

Minor Beefs:  I wish the author would have deviated just a little from the all too familiar YA dystopian formula.  Checklist: (a great wall or division separating ‘us’ from ‘them’ or the great ‘unknown’, a central female character, dysfunctional family-life, first person narrative, love triangle, etc.)  Though, admittedly the love triangle in this one was a bit one-sided.  Another thing…On some level I know that this is a social commentary book, but it’s trying a little too hard to make a point that honestly has already been made many times before.  Recall, Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” (published 1985).  The world that is build is so totally stereotypical until I cannot take it at all seriously.  I mean, it’s like an extreme satire on gender inequality (which is a hot button topic lately).  I felt myself laughing at some of the goings-on in the book.  Not because it was funny but because its familiar and cliché.  Women are basically chattel, whose only value is in marriage and the production of sons.  This is not a new concept…and it’s not even portrayed in a novel way.  It’s not that the story’s not interesting…it is, but it’s not new…it’s been done so many times until I wonder what’s the point?  However, having said that I must concede, the younger generation of teenagers and millennials have likely never heard of Atwood or ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and may be even less familiar with dystopian patriarchy.  So perhaps ‘Time Zero’ is *this* generation’s ‘Handmaid’s Tale’.  Either way, I think YA and Millennials readers will enjoy the book.  It’s familiar, yes, but also highly entertaining.

Random Thoughts:  I tend to agree with militant feminist Reyna about the Laurel Club’s agenda.  They should be more about revolution, not passive empowerment.  Of course, to be fair, this is a series, so, maybe we’ll get to see a revolt in Book 2 (*fingers crossed*).

Cliffhanger:  Yes, there is a cliffhanger.  Some elements of the book’s main conflict were resolved, others were addressed but not resolved…and then a few things were left completely hanging.  I think the author achieves a good balance, you get some resolution, but there’s still more story to tell.  I don’t mind cliffhangers as long as it’s well done and this one is pretty good.

The Verdict:  Familiar, but overall a good book, nice read.  Honestly, it’s the best YA I’ve read in a while.  Not a new concept, but interesting and the characters were very likeable…well, there were a few that I loved to hate, but in a good way, (eh, if that makes sense.)  I would recommend it.

You can find ‘Time Zero’ on Goodreads.

 

Find out more about ‘Time Zero‘:

Book Website: http://www.timezerobook.com/
Trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxLCZBxJWgI
Twitter @timezerobook: https://twitter.com/timezerobook
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/timezerobook
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/timezerobook/

 

You can purchase a copy of ‘Time Zero’ here:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

 

Giveaway

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07e1292ba39995a9eeb4c4136d05b96dAbout the Author:

Carolyn Cohagan began her writing career as a stand-up comic, performing in comedy clubs all over the world, including New York, Chicago, London, and Amsterdam. After studying physical theater at the Ecole International de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, she began to write and perform one-woman shows, traveling to theater festivals from Edinburgh to Adelaide. In Los Angeles, Carolyn wrote and directed short films, worked for Slamdance and the LA Film Festival and was a red carpet host for the Independent Spirit Awards.

Carolyn’s first novel, The Lost Children, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010, became part of the Scholastic Book Club in 2011, and was nominated for a Massachusetts Children’s Book Award in 2014.

In the fall of 2013, Carolyn traveled to Rwanda as an Arts Envoy working for the U.S. State Department. She taught a vast array of writing workshops, including Teaching Critical Analysis, Using the Three Act Structure in Screenwriting, and How to Use Storytelling in the Classroom.

She has a BA in Art History from Barnard and an MA in Writing from USC. Carolyn has recently returned to her hometown of Austin where she founded Girls With Pens, a creative writing organization for girls 9-17.

 

Author Interview

I see from your bio that you started out writing comedy, one woman shows, and short film, what prompted you to switch to writing novel-length fiction?

I wrote my first novel by mistake. I was writing screenplays at the time and had decided I wanted to start my next project with a treatment instead of just diving into the script (a treatment is a plot summary of a film written in prose). I started writing the story and it kept going . . . and going . . . and going. I fell in love with prose and long form storytelling and I’ve never looked back.

What is the major difference(s) between writing novels and writing screen-plays for short films? Comedy Skits/Shows?

Writing shows for the stage gives you the opportunity to try things in front of a live audience. If moments aren’t working, you can change them and try again. It’s a wonderful education in how the rhythms of language and comedy work. With a novel, you can give the manuscript to lots of beta-readers, but you don’t really know how the public will respond until it is published. And then (at least in traditional publishing) you can’t go back and change anything. When a book is released, I feel like I am taking a big leap off a cliff.

What’s the story behind your latest book, ‘Time Zero’?

Time Zero is about a 15-year-old girl living in a future Manhattan that has been taken over by extremists. What makes the book unique is that all the religious rules have been taken from existing fundamentalist religions, including those that originate in the United States. Each rule that the heroine, Mina Clark, follows is governing the life of a girl somewhere in the world right now. 

My goal with “Time Zero” is to call attention to extremism as a universal problem and to highlight how it specifically harms girls. Globally, 62 million girls are not in school. Every year, 15 million girls are married as children (thousands of which are within the United States). Stoning as a punishment for adultery is still legal and occurring in over 14 countries. 

I’m dismayed that despite these statistics many girls today are not involved with the fight for women’s rights. Young pop stars and actresses hesitate to call themselves “feminists.” Conservatives have done a very good job of obfuscating the meaning of the word. So when I began to write Time Zero, I thought, “Let’s really examine what it means to not have rights as a woman, and let’s not just do it as sci-fi or fantasy. Let’s ground it in reality, so it can have real resonance.”

I want readers to empathize with Mina and her restrictions. I defy anyone, male or female, to read Time Zero and not be a feminist by the last page.

‘Time Zero’ has a rather unconventional cover, how did you approach cover design?

I didn’t want a picture of a girl. I hate it when a cover imposes a distinct image of how the main character is supposed to look. I wanted something abstract that related to the world of the book that would also be provocative. The city landscape made out of collaged words is my favorite part.

If you ever got the chance to bring Time Zero to the big screen, would you write the screen-play yourself? What would be your dream-casting for Mina and Juda?

If I had the opportunity to work on the screenplay, I would want to partner with someone with a ton of screenwriting experience who really kicks ass. Adapting a book well is an art form, and I’m afraid I’m too close to the source material to do the best job possible on my own.

Dream casting? Hmmm. That’s tough. Perhaps Maisie Williams (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones) if she went blonde. She has that quiet intensity. Or Keirnan Shipka from Mad Men. For Juda . . . perhaps Suraj Sharma from Life of Pi? It’s hard when you have a specific idea of how a character should look. No actor will be 100% right (which is why fans get so overwrought about casting).

What are you working on next?

The sequel to Time Zero! In the meantime, there is some bonus content on the website for people who can’t wait.  :  )     timezerobook.com

You can find and contact Carolyn Cohagan here:

-Author page:  http://carolyncohagan.com/
-Twitter:  https://twitter.com/carolyncohagan
-Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/carolyn.cohagan

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