Series: Sunset Rising #1
on November 12th 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are grudgingly permitted entry. But the price of admission is high.
283 years later… Life as a slave in the Pit had never been easy, but for seventeen-year-old Sunny O’Donnell it was quickly careening out of control. Her mother was killed in the annual spring Cull, leaving her alone with a father who decided to give up on life. It’s not that she blamed him for grieving, but if they didn’t earn enough credits to keep their place inside the Pit, they would be kicked out into a world still teeming with radiation. That left her to earn the credits for both of them. It didn’t help that her boyfriend, Reyes Crowe, was pressuring her to get married and abandon her father.
Sunny didn’t think life could get any worse, until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to serve and entertain the elite at a bachelor party. That's where she met Leisel Holt, the president's daughter, and her fiancé, Jack Kenner. Now Sunny is wanted for treason. If they catch her, she'll be executed.
She thought Leisel's betrayal was the end for her…but it turns out it was just the beginning.
“Oh, Summer. If you weren’t so picky, you could have been married by now. But whenever a boy is interested in you, you’re suddenly not interested in him. I think you like flirting more than actually having a boyfriend.”
“That’s not true. I just haven’t met the right one yet.”
“Though you do bring up a good point. You’re running out of time.”
Summer could have had her pick of any boy in the Pit. A full head shorter than me, her small stature and delicate limbs gave her an elegant, feminine quality. I always felt large and clumsy next to her.
“You know, we’re always talking about me,” Summer said. “How are you? How’s your dad?”
She might regret asking that question, but I gave her an honest answer. “Dad lost his job yesterday because he didn’t show up for work.”
“Oh, Sunny. What are you going to do?”
I heard sympathy in her voice, and exasperation, too. My father had always been a little self-destructive. My mother had done a fairly good job of protecting me from it, but without her, I was on my own with him. “I told Reyes last night I couldn’t marry him until after the next Cull.”
“You’re postponing? Again?” she asked. “That’s a bit drastic. I’m sure your father can get another job. He’s had a lot of experience in the mines.”
“He’s barely been eating since Mom left, and now he’s too weak to get out of bed.”
“But you’ve put your marriage on hold once before, and I can’t imagine Reyes is happy with postponing again. And you’re not getting any younger, Sunny. You’re almost eighteen. Aren’t you afraid Reyes is going to get fed up with waiting and move on to someone else?”
I had never thought about Reyes being with someone else. We had been together forever. And at our age, it was getting kind of late to go looking for a new partner. Of course he would wait for me. If I gave him enough time, he would eventually understand that my father needed me right now, and I couldn’t leave him.
But there was wisdom in her words. At seventeen, I was middle-aged, and that didn’t bode well for getting approval to have a child. Population control in the Pit was getting stricter all the time. Reyes really wanted a child, but if I was being honest with myself, I didn’t. I guessed that was why I didn’t feel an urgent need to get married right away.