In 1970, Edwin Starr asked the world, “War! What is it good for?” It’s an interesting question, and one that many might approach by considering the circumstances around individual conflicts, answering on a case-by-case basis rather than making any kind of monolithic claim. Starr’s answer, of course, was “absolutely nothing,” a declaration anyone may be inclined to agree with if they found themselves entrenched in a war that had no discernable cause or motivation. The “New War” in S.E. Keller’s Rain (Barnes & Noble Press) is one such conflict.
Waging for over a year, the true origins of the “New War” remain unknown. Some believe it was the work of a terrorist organization while others speculate it was “a prospect of land” or “a political agenda to mess with the next election.” Yet the attacks — the plane crashes, the deaths of political leaders, the hacking of government intel — have been happening all over the world and don’t seem to target any one specific group. Nothing about this war makes sense, and still thousands of people across the globe have sided with the infamous anarchist movement led by an organization known as “The Martyred Men.”
In response to their rise, the U.S. government deployed anyone whose professions they deemed “irrelevant to societal progression.” Families have been torn apart; lives destroyed in the name of a war no one understands. And then they created “The Peace Union,” a watchdog meant to silence any citizen who dares to speak out against U.S. involvement in the war.
RUN, HIDE, THERE IS NO ESCAPE
Siren Eyre is just trying to live life with her head down. Sure, there’s a war waging outside her high school’s door, and she’s surveilled within its walls, but “how can you fight something you can’t see?” So, life goes on. Siren and her peers continue to worry about the inconsequential — homework, bullies, crushes — that is, until a group of unidentified, armed men storm the high school. They walk the halls, murdering students and teachers alike. But why? Siren jumps into the fight to try and aid her classmates but finds herself kidnapped by the men in the process.
Now, trapped inside their nightmare compound, Siren meets a mysterious boy named Shadow who claims he can help her, train her in physical combat so that she may earn her freedom. But in a place as dangerous as this, Siren doesn’t know whether or not she can trust him. And yet he’s one of the only people who seems to have any information about the New War, the men who kidnapped her, and why she was spared when so many were slaughtered.
Author Keller has penned a puzzler of thriller in Rain. Alternating between Siren’s perspective and the perspective of others inside the compound on occasion, readers must stay on their toes as they navigate the series of mysteries thrown their way. Distinguishing friend from foe won’t be easy for Siren, but confronting the complex organization holding her captive is the only way to uncover the truth.
So, what is this war good for? Or more importantly, what is this war for? Strap yourselves in, readers. There’s only one way to find out.
Rain is available for purchase. To learn more about S.E. Keller, visit her BookTrib author profile page here.