Publisher: Doubleday Childrens
Release date: July 4th 2013.
Paperback, 368 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Liz from Planet Print.
Years after a violent war destroyed much of the world, Kaspar has grown up in a society based on peace and harmony. But beyond the city walls, a vicious band of rebels are plotting to tear this peace apart. It is up to the Guardians - an elite peacekeeping force - to protect the city, without ever resorting to the brutal methods of their enemy.
When Kaspar joins the Guardians, he has a chance encounter with a rebel - a beautiful girl named Rhea. Haunted from that moment on by strange visions and memories - memories that could only belong to Rhea - he realises he hasn't been told the truth about what the rebels really want, and what he's really fighting for.
Kaspar Wilding has left his uncle’s farm to become a Guardian in the Alliance, charged with protecting the people from the Insurgency, a group of terrorists who will stop at nothing to destroy the Alliance and everything it stands for. Kaspar wants to make it in the Alliance without relying on his parents, who were exceptional Guardians before they died. However, being a Guardian is different from what Kaspar expected, and soon Kaspar begins to question everything he has been taught about the Insurgency and the War to End All Wars – it seems his knowledge of history isn’t quite as thorough as he thought. He meets a Crusader, a girl named Rhea who is part of the Insurgency he has trained so hard to fight against – and she saves his life. Together with computer expert, Mac, Kaspar tries to uncover the truth behind the Insurgency and what their real motives are for fighting.
Noble Conflict was definitely an engaging book, and while it was a somewhat standard format dystopia, I think the characters helped to make things different. Kaspar was an interesting protagonist. At first I didn’t really like him too much – he seemed a little naive and a bit self-involved. However, he definitely grew on me, especially when he became less concerned with following orders and more determined to find out the truth. He didn’t back down once he’d gotten that resolve and I liked how he refused to participate in a cover up following the death of a comrade – he would not sign a document that insinuated that his comrade was at fault for what happened, and I think that showed integrity. He wasn’t the type to just do anything to climb up the career ladder, even though he had wanted to become a Guardian for years. Perhaps he was a bit too trusting of others (or perhaps I’m just too cynical and refuse to trust anyone in dystopia novels :P) but all in all, he had the makings of a good cadet and had things been different, probably would have risen through the ranks quickly. I would have liked to have seen a bit more emotion from him at times – we were told that he was sad or upset at certain moments, but I felt a little detached from it, and could have done with more description or time spent on figuring out his feelings, especially after meeting Rhea and his last meeting with her at the end of the book.
Mac, who was a librarian and good with computers and research, was a favourite of mine. She was very funny, and often teased Kaspar which was delightfully amusing, but she was also really, really smart, and I don’t think Kaspar would have discovered half of what he did without her help. The two had an odd sort of relationship – Kaspar liked her but wouldn’t say anything and Mac made a lot of jokes and innuendos and it was almost impossible to tell what would happen between them – but I definitely enjoyed all the scenes they had together. There was a twist at the end as well which I was not expecting – I shall say no more, but if Malorie Blackman were to write a sequel to this book, I would definitely read it for more Kaspar and Mac!
Generally, I thought the plot was slightly predictable (except for one twist at the end) but I think that’s just because I’ve read a lot of dystopia books, so I wouldn’t let that put you off – I still enjoyed the book, regardless. I liked the extracts from texts written by key members of the Alliance which were interspersed throughout because it was interesting to read about the different views everyone had on history and why things had ended up the way they were now. I think certain things could have been explained more, especially the traits of the Insurgency, but apart from that, I think the world-building was pretty good. I would have liked to have found out more about Kaspar’s parents too – which is why I would definitely be up for a sequel!
Overall, I really enjoyed Noble Conflict, and would recommend it to dystopia fans or beginners who want to be eased into the genre.