Folsom. Wow! From the get-go, I was taken by surprise. Sure, I had read the synopsis. I knew this was a series, a romance, a dystopian tale. But I did not expect all of the intricacies, delicate touches, delicious sexy sexiness, and holy-hell-did-that-just-happen moments. Tarryn Fisher and Willow Aster create a world so different from our own with new technology, new settings, and a new mindset. And yet, with all this newness, there are some of the same themes—relevant and impactful themes—that we see in our present-day lives. Feminism. Injustice. Favoritism. Manipulation. Self-sacrifice. Class structures. And undeserved and exploited power.
Some characters made me feel hope and exhilaration, while others made me feel sorrow and sympathy. Some settings are natural and beautiful, while others are stifling and prison-like. There are so many juxtapositions in this book, which make it feel both cohesive and unsettling—a positive, in my opinion. One of the things I’ve learned from reading Tarryn’s and Willow’s books is to embrace unexpectedness. They always bring something different to the table. Even if the story is a romance, its plot has little twists. Even if there’s a villainous character, who you’re predisposed to hate, you learn to appreciate them. Tarryn’s and Willow’s writing is never formulaic, never static. In the case of Folsom, I found the story truly challenging. It challenged my quick-to-judge perceptions. It challenged my view of politics and my understanding of socioeconomics. This book was insightful and compelling and unique. I loved it.
Once you immerse yourself in Folsom and Gwen’s world, you will find yourself not wanting to put the book down. It is absolutely addicting. To the point that you won’t feel satisfied with just one book. You’ll want all the books, and you’ll want them yesterday.
A book about a world of women and only 12 men left to help society continue on…sounds like some men’s fantasy.
A character who is required to smash three times a day to keep up with “appointments”…okay, that sounds kinda hot.
A character torn by their own role in society’s norm that makes me “think” and “feel things”? Well, crap.
First, let me say this: I am a slow reader. For years, I hated to read. As a kid, reading was the worst chore ever. It wasn’t until I got my first Kindle, allowing me to adjust the font size, that I became an avid reader. But even now, books can take me awhile to get through. I have a neurological issue with my eyes that makes it hard to follow lines in books. I mention this to emphasize a point: I TORE through this book. I read this book in about 2 days, which may be common for some, but not me. It was gripping, intriguing, hot (insert blushing), and made me want to know more.
I went into this book trying to decide who wrote which parts. I remember reading Never Never by Tarryn Fisher and Colleen Hoover and being able to clearly identify who wrote which sections. I wanted to do the same here—not to pick apart the book, but to be able to appreciate what each one of them brought to the story. The problem with Folsom is that, except for a quote here and there, I really couldn’t tell who wrote which part. Whatever blend of magical juju Tarryn and Willow used to create this book is pretty amazing. Their ability to blend their styles into something uniquely whole is impressive, to say the least.
In all honesty, the only real quote that felt Tarryn-esque was this one: “The secret to survival is to stay hard and focused, hard enough that the vastness of emptiness cannot live inside you.” But even now, as I write this, I am not 100% sold that Tarryn wrote that. It sounds like it could come directly from one of her responses to a “Tuesdays with Tarryn” question, but it could be Willow, too. Regardless who wrote this quote, it stands out to me as the central crux of the story. Is this quote accurate? Is this just someone who is putting up a wall? Which side will each character take? For me, this quote is exactly what the story hangs on. For fear of sharing too much, I won’t leave my opinion. Instead, I will let you read the book and decide for yourself.
Now, let’s talk about the sex. Those of you who have read our other reviews know that prior to this blog, I was not big into the indie book world. I had read Tarryn’s books, but I was not accustomed to the kind of sexy sexiness (as Erica calls it) that weaves through a book like Folsom. With a plot that focuses on one of only 12 men left to populate the country, the sex feels like it is another character in the book that the other characters must deal with and work through. It doesn’t feel gratuitous or trashy. That being said, it made me blush like a motherfucker. Holy hell. Honestly, I am not sure how I am going to be able to make eye contact with Tarryn or Willow when I see them again. “Um, yes, hi. Your book was hot. Thanks. Bye.” Even more, how the hell will I look Josh in the eye? “Hey, your wife really turned me on with her writing. High five?” Oy.
This book is listed as a dystopian romance, but it didn’t feel overly focused on the dystopian aspects. There was just enough of the dystopian context to make the story feel real, but the main focus was on the characters, which I appreciated. With such recent dystopian hits like The Hunger Games, are there parts that feel like they are similar? Yes, a few. Twelve men and 12 regions in Folsom compared to 12 districts in the original Hunger Games. But that’s about as far as the comparison goes. Folsom is its own beast and one that deserves to stand on its own.
Folsom is the first in what will likely be a whole series of other books, so there is a cliffhanger aspect. However, after hearing Tarryn share that they are planning to have one book for at least ten of the men with the next one coming out in less than a month on June 29th, I would definitely recommend you pick this up and start reading now. It’s totally worth it, even with the blushing.
I regret not taking a picture of Matt’s incessant blushing. (Sorry, Willow!)
Matt touched on Folsom (the character) a bit, but the real star of the story is Gwen. What a powerhouse. She is the kind of woman all women want to be. Strong, independent, passionate, logical…a true survivalist. She is the most important and most influential female character I’ve read in years. She brings hope to a situation that lacks it. She makes a stand when it is called for. She is a natural leader without the ego or arrogance. I want to shake her hand, hug her, and beg to be her best friend. Folsom may be the hero of the regions, but Gwen is the hero of all humanity. SHE IS EVERYTHING.
Do I wish book 2 (Jackal) was Gwen’s book? Hell yes. But that would be the expected, wouldn’t it? And as I said previously, Fisher & Aster are anything but.
To purchase a copy of or read a synopsis for Fisher & Aster’s Folsom, click here.
To preorder a copy of Fisher & Aster’s Jackal (book 2 in the series), click here.