Welcome to another installment of ‘Kristin’s Book Reviews’ where I tell you exactly what I think about some of the most exciting new releases. Today’s book is special in the fact that it’s author Ashley Bogner’s first novel! Ashely has been a faithful reviewer of my books (even though we don’t always agree 100% on things) and I’m so excited to finally be able to return the favor. I was also able to interview Ashley about her writing process, which I know all my readers that write will enjoy. Without further ado, here is the interview. Make sure to keep reading to find out how much I enjoyed and ‘Reintegration’ along with a brief synopsis.
Interview with Author Ashely Bogner
What is the most difficult thing (or things) you struggle with as a writer?
World-building and scenery description, definitely. I’m so jealous of authors who craft richly-detailed, epic fantasy or sci-fi settings that make me feel like I’m actually in the story.
Are you part of a writing group? Why or why not?
I used to be part of a writer’s group that met once a month and I loved it. Unfortunately, my family moved and I haven’t been able to find a Christian writer’s group near me. It’s very disappointing, as I love meeting other writers and learning from their experiences.
When do your ideas usually come to you? When you’re writing? When you’re walking around? Reading a good book?
On car trips, actually! There’s something about watching the scenery go by while listening to music that just tends to inspire story ideas.
Although, I am also plagued quite frequently by the ideas that come when I’m trying to fall asleep and am too tired to write them down. 🙂
What kind of writer are you, a planner, a pantser, or a plantser (combination of the two)?
Definitely a planner. I never start a book without doing a gazillion outlines and synopses (I always want to write this synopsises—it’s very fun to say!). I don’t like getting half-way through a manuscript then realizing I either have no idea where I’m going or I have a major plot loophole. It’s also helpful for when I have to abandon a project for a while. I can just reread my outline and pick up right where I left off!
How many drafts do you write, and which of those is the most difficult for you?
This question made me laugh, because for me, there is actually no telling how many drafts I’ll have. Reintegration had one draft followed by some small edits. I’m currently on the fourth draft of the sequel. Once I finish the Reintegration trilogy, I’ll start my tenth draft of an old fantasy manuscript of mine. The number of drafts I’ll have is such a mystery.
Honestly, rough drafts are the most difficult. As I mentioned earlier, I do a lot of planning so I don’t run into a lot of writer’s block. Rough drafts are hard for me because I’m a perfectionist and I want everything to be just right the first time. Oftentimes, I’m not even half-way through the rough draft and I’m already dying to go back and edit. I really have to push myself to finish before I start rewriting.
Are there any character traits you have that you try to instill in your characters? Are there traits you wish you had that you give to your characters? What are they?
You’ll actually find a lot of “me” in my characters, especially my female protagonists. I want my characters to feel authentic, so oftentimes the fears and dreams and values and flaws and doubts they have are based off my own. I try to make them unique characters, but also have them be characters I relate to.
My characters have a lot more courage than I do. They’re more willing to take action when they need to. I’m that person who has to think through all the options before making a decision, and I sometimes miss opportunities because of it. That’s why I love speculative stories so much—the characters inspire me to be braver, even if I’m not involved in a world-saving adventure. 🙂
What genre is your new project?
Reintegration is a YA dystopian novel told from a Christian worldview. It’s also the first of a trilogy!
What was your world building process like for this project?
Dystopian is an interesting genre because it’s so theme-driven. World-building has always been a struggle of mine, but with Reintegration it came a lot easier than with previous stories. With dystopian fiction, I found that the “key” to world-building (at least for me) is building the setting around the theme. My characters live in a world where tolerance and relativism have been taken too far. I looked at each element of the setting from this perspective. What government type would reflect this idea best? What would the education system be like? How would people interact with each other? Then I filled in the details with things like clothing, food, vocabulary, etc.
My Thoughts On ‘Reintegration‘
Categories: Speculative Fiction, Young Adult, Religious Fiction, Dystopian
This book is touching and thought provoking with plenty of twists and turns. There is some violence toward the end, which is why I don’t recommend this book for readers under the age of 13, but besides that I found it to be totally clean and appropriate. If you like futuristic dystopian style novels, ‘Reintegration’ will definitely keep you entertained and turning the pages. I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it in one sitting. The only complaint I have is that sometimes there were paragraphs of Katherine’s inner thoughts that seemed to go on too long. Those scenes would have been more powerful without as much repetition and length. I think that is one of the main reasons why I haven’t seen very many five star reviews for this book… the too-long inner dialogue bogs down the flow of the otherwise smooth yet punchy story line. However, I remember what it was like to write my first novel, and I think given time Bogner will learn to avoid this mistake.
The themes in this book center on what happens when the true meaning of tolerance is forgotten and twisted into moral relativism, the importance of family, and establishing boundaries within the context of righteousness. Does God exist? And if yes, what would Katherine be willing to risk to get that information into the hands of her peers? Matthew was definitely my favorite character!
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series whenever it comes out, and I would definitely recommend it to my friends. I wish there was more Religious Fiction in the world like ‘Reintegration’.
TAG LINE: A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both…
SUMMARY: As a Regulator, seventeen-year-old Katherine Holliday’s duty is to protect the people of the Federation from a group of violent rebels who have exiled themselves to the mysterious wilderness. When one of these rebels is captured within the Federation, the government leaders propose an alternative to execution, a procedure they call Reintegration. The procedure involves erasing the rebel’s memory and attempting to make him a member of society. The rebel, a young man named Matthew, is not the violent criminal Katherine expects, and she can’t help but befriend him. A few weeks after Matthew’s Reintegration, Katherine realizes the procedure failed and she is now presented with a choice no one else can help her make. Can she warn her superiors that Reintegration failed, which could mean death for Matthew? Or will she defy everything she knows to help him escape—and risk her own execution?
AUTHOR BIO: When Ashley Bogner was in third grade, she decided she would be a published author when she grew up. Ashley is a homeschool graduate and has lived in seven different states. She completed a year of Bible college and in the fall will begin pursuing a degree in Communication Studies. After college, her plan is to work in the Christian publishing industry. When not writing, she can be found baking, posting book reviews on her blog, and watching her favorite movies over and over to the point of memorization.
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As always, happy reading!
Kristin N. Spencer