IA: Initiate by John Darryl Winston is an appealing and exciting new novel that introduces readers to the IA series. While it is aimed at the young adult crowd, this novel may still be enjoyed by those of all ages, as it has very straightforward formatting and a plot line that engages you from the very beginning.
To start off, this novel puts me into the mindset of Ender’s Game or perhaps The Hunger Games, as this story is set in a dystopian future world that yet somewhat still resembles our own. Gangs, violence, homelessness—these are all issues that surround and permeate the characters’ atmosphere. Mr. Winston, a native of my own home state, introduces us into the life and mind of one young Naz Anderson. Naz is an enigma: he has no real past, no identity of his own, and he seems to be drifting through his life. His sole motivation is his younger half-sister, Meri. Now, while this might seem frustrating and unimaginative to some, I personally connected to Naz. He reminded me of myself, his lack of self-identity or past memories hitting a bit too close to home. I loved that I was being slowly introduced to Naz and his “problems,” some manifesting from the very beginning and some taking their sweet time to show. The story is filled with easy-to-digest descriptions and imagery, even if the buildup can appear rushed at times. I’m anxious to see what comes next in the series, as both my curiosity and my fascination have been piqued by Mr. Winston.
Again, this is a young adult novel, but as an adult I still enjoyed it. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read YA novels or as a gift for a voracious young reader in your family.