Originally reviewed by TracingTheStars.com, which may have received a review copy in return for an honest review.
Meridian left me with some rather conflicted feelings. I certainly enjoyed the story, the well-done characters and great world-building. On the other hand, the whole time I was reading it, I felt like I had read or seen it all before. I think what this book had in great writing, it lacked in originality. That vague sense of deja'vu is what led to a four star rating instead of five.
I'll start off with the set up. It was a little confusing at first, as there are quite a few players involved and the reader is dumped right into the thick of things. I liked this, as it avoided info dumps and the overall world-building was pretty good. The world has been destroyed during a war against technology called the Cleansing. The "Church" controls the major settlements, vowing against technology. The Church, however, uses technology in its battles against Umbra.
Umbra is the other side - people who became disillusioned with the Church, set out across the wastelands and forming their own faction, which seeks to take down the Church. They don't see technology as the enemy. Both of these factions include humans without powers, called 'norms', and the rarer humans who have elemental based powers. Umbra calls them Revenants, the Church calls them Priests. Both factions used them to further the war efforts.
Added into this mix is the typical wastelands inhabitants - a bunch of crazy, inbred marauders. Oh, and there is also a mysterious, powerful white-haired girl with red eyes, named Mercy, who is found by a Church squad, escapes and is then picked up by an Umbra Revenant. The Revenant is our main character, Corvis, who has the power to control fire. On the other side of the game is a team of Church Templars, Toren and Rose, who are charged with getting Mercy back.
The writing throughout the novel is solid, though there are a few spots where information is unceremoniously dumped on the reader. The characterizations are strong, with a well-balanced approach to each person. Even the characters who are only in the story for a short time are given life, meaning and a connection for the reader. Both sides of the war are given equal measure in a well done balancing that has bad guys and good guys within each faction.
I think where this book fell short for me was in the department of originality. I think I was hoping for a bit more of it. The story feels like it's all been done before, perhaps in a book, a graphic novel or an anime series. I had trouble finding any original, 'ah!' moments, and that's part of my five-star requirement.
Despite this lack of something groundbreaking that I'd been hoping for, it is a really good, well-written book that I enjoyed reading and would recommend.