Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on October 6th 2015
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In 1843, hoping to earn approval from the father of the woman he loves, Zadock Thomas is sent across the country on a mission to deliver a secret letter deep within the new Republic of Texas. Three hundred years later, the Texas Republic is one of a handful of remaining city-states and keeps its citizens in line through close surveillance. After the death of his high-ranking grandfather, Zeke Thomas inherits an old letter, but loses it before he can see inside. The letter and its contents are the center of Bats of the Republic, linking the stories of Zeke in the future with Zadock in the past.
Finding a way to write an original dystopian novel is no easy task, but Zachary Thomas nails it with Bats of the Republic. The future Thomas creates is intriguing—with people living in Hunger Games-esqe districts based on age for the purpose of procreation—and often had me wanting more. Dystopia in this case it wasn’t lacking originality, but space. I imagine there was quite a bit left on the editing floor in order to make room for the 1843 storyline, which was vital to the book as a whole, but difficult to balance.
More than anything, Bats of the Republic is a visual reading experience. The small bumps in its story are more than made up by the surprises on every page—drawings, maps, handwritten notes, and a book within a book (bullet hole included). Zachary Thomas Dodson has written a beautiful, complex novel perfect for readers who can appreciate great design as much as good writing.