Those 5 words sum up Compendium by Alia Luria, the first book in the new Artifacts of Lumin series. They also drive the plot as we follow Mia through a discovery of self and culture.
Chapter 1 drew me into the story. A conflict within the ruling body of Lumin forces the hand of one of the top leaders and the world is thrown backwards in time as the society looses access to the source that powers a quite sophisticated set of technology. I saw hints regarding similar conflicts within our world related to climate change and power sources. Is what is best for the planet best for the people who inhabit it? Is what is best for the people best for the planet on which they reside? A tough choice is made and the remainder of the book touches on the rippling effects of that choice.
The remainder of the novel follows Mia, a tough independent young lady whose father gives her over to one of the holy orders that is dedicated to preserving and discovering the history and technology of Lumin. The order reminds me a bit of a monastery, commune and university rolled into one. Mia struggles to fit in as she feels she is very different from everyone she encounters. And perhaps she is, but maybe not in the overt ways that appear on the surface.
Mia is the reason I kept reading the book—her and Compendium, the unique piece of technology she acquires which becomes her guide (think Siri without a voice). After the opening chapters, the book slows down a bit as Mia finds her footing with the Order, discovers allies and of course, conflict. I do wish the story had moved a bit faster. It seemed to drag in parts as I started to put the pieces of the who Mia was and her connection to the Order together. I wanted to find out quicker if my assumptions were correct. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes I get a bit impatient when I read and there is a mystery involved!
I’m still wrestling with the ending. It’s not a cliffhanger, but there isn’t complete resolution either. I didn’t dislike the ending, but I didn’t love it either. While the mystery of Mia is resolved, not much in the greater context of how everything fits into Lumin as it is now is put to rest. Perhaps I was hoping for more of a resolution on those plot points and a different conflict to be the jumping off point into book 2.
Overall, I did enjoy Compendium. The world of Lumin is beautifully drawn, Mia’s strong personality is one I identified with and there were the right amount of breadcrumbs driving me to forward to the end. I would recommend Compendium to others who enjoy books featuring characters striving to discover who they are and how they fit into the greater context of the world in which they live.
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