“Dudley’s writing is enthralling.”

I submitted Semper to the Booklife prize this year. Small chance of winning anything (there’s always hope), but every entry received a professional critique.

The short version: This first book in the trilogy is only moderately original, but the writing is “enthralling.” Top marks for character and quality of writing.

Much of the trilogy’s originality grows through the 2nd and 3rd books. But the quality of the writing is consistent.

So if you’re looking for a fun and engaging read in the same genre as Hunger Games and Divergent, give this trilogy a try.

The full review

Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Originality: 6 out of 10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Prose: 9 out of 10⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Overall: 7.75 out of 10⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨


With a fast-paced, exciting opening, Semper starts on the right foot with multiple kidnappings and tense character interactions from the word go. Events become a tad less exciting when the Hamlet-inspired parts of the plot take over and story beats become predictable.


Dane’s narration is instantly compelling, bringing us in close to his perspective as the future leader of his people. Expertly balancing internal monologue and action, Dudley’s writing is enthralling. Characters sometimes have more knowledge than feels accurate for three hundred years post-apocalypse.


Both the Hamlet theme and the post-‘Bomb’ setting are quite common. Neither of the standard tropes of either are subverted much, though they are still written in an entertaining fashion.

Character Development/Execution

Dane, Lupay, Freda, Tom, and others all come across as richly detailed characters with their own unique motivations and personalities. Many traits, especially for the villains, are cribbed from Shakespeare, but it’s all put across so well that it’s hard to mind much.

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