2015 YADN: City of Savages by Lee Kelly

Expected Publication: February 3rd 2015 by Simon & Schuster (Saga Press)
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction; Dystopia
It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Warden Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For 17-year-old Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s 16-year-old sister, Phee, the P.O.W. camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.
When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the outbreak of the war, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual P.O.W. census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.
Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that ends in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District, and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past. Sky and Phee are dependent on each other, and their ragged posse, for survival, but as their feelings grow toward the handsome English boy Ryder, love and jealousy threaten to break them apart.
While primarily a thriller, City of Savages is also a story about the many meanings of sisterhood, told across two generations of New York women—those who survived a terrible tragedy, and those who were raised to live in its aftermath. 
Isn't that cover adorable? I love it! Today, we are having the author of City of Savages to share more of her debut! Let's welcome Miss Lee Kelly with our warmest hugs!

City of Savages is a great title. Who came up with it?
Thanks!  And it's funny you ask, as the original title for the book was actually different (it was previously called MANHATTAN SAVAGES).  But after editorial revisions, the story had a more universal feel to it, and my editor Navah Wolfe and I wanted to capture that spirit in the title.  After some brainstorming and discussions, we came up with CITY OF SAVAGES.  I have to say I like it so much better!

Dictionary tells me that Savage (noun) means A member of an uncivilized people; A cruelly rapacious person, did you ever thought you are one? Or did it occur to some part of your life?

Ha, I hope I am not one!  But I think the "savages" in this book aren't completely rapacious or cruel -- some of them are just doing what they think they need to do to survive, to give themselves a second chance in their fallen city.  And I think that's the most interesting kind of savage, actually -- the cruel person that you can somehow still understand, and maybe even empathize with.

In terms of my own life, some of the inspiration for this book did come from my days working in New York, with long hours and tight deadlines and demanding bosses.  Sometimes it felt quite grueling and savage haha, and some of the places and events and characters in my everyday work life I found myself weaving into the beginnings of this novel.

Would you write a journal like Sky and Phee’s mother too for your daughters in the future?
Man I hope I am never EVER in a situation like Sarah in my life (her journal quite literally documents the end of her world), but I do think there's something to be said for keeping a journal and sharing it with your children in non-post-apocalyptic times :).  A journal can do so much more than a photo can -- it lets you share your voice, thoughts and impressions of your world, and who you were in a certain moment in time.  The power of the past is such a powerful thing, and I think sharing your journal with your children lets them share in your story. Short answer:  yes, I hope to share my journal musings with my own children one day!

Tell us more about Ryder! English boys are way too aplomb.
Ryder is this witty but introspective boy who has seen terrible things happen to his world, and he's looking to rebuild his sense of self and create a family -- something to call his own -- in the aftermath.  He's also a bit of a chameleon, a survivor, and both of the main characters, Sky and Phee, see something different in him and end up falling for him (which obviously doesn't end well).

My sister made this trailer for me right when I finished the novel (it still has the old title!):

Mom stays there for a while, looking out to an empty street through dusty glass.  I know what she’s doing.  She’s centering herself, closing herself off before we can figure out another way inside her. 
“We’re running out of time.”  Mom turns towards the bedroom, her eyes on the matted carpet.  “Let’s not forget why we’re here.  Phee’s birthday present, remember?”
“So that’s it?” I call after her.  “End of conversation?”
No answer.
Sky and I exchange a look.  This is how Mom is.  A closed book.  It’s useless to try and open her.
“This gift better be good, is all I’m saying,” I finally whisper to Sky, and we follow Mom into her old bedroom. 
Mom’s sandwiched herself in between the nearby wall and a bed that nearly devours the room.  She takes a blurry black-and-white photo off the wall to reveal a small steel door. 
“What is that?” Sky asks.
“A safe.  Your dad installed it when we moved here.”  Mom takes her time, twisting a knob on the safe’s face round and round.  Right, left, right, and the safe door clicks open.
“What’s it for?”
“It does what it says.  Keeps important things safe.”
“Like what?” I try to peer around her but she blocks me.
“Like… our passports, Sky’s birth certificate—”
“A birth certificate?” I say.  Some things from Before are just so dumb.  “A certificate that says you were born?  Isn’t the fact that you’re here proof enough?”
Mom gives a little laugh, continues fishing through a pile of things I can’t see.  God, I really, really hope my gift is not some lame piece of paper. 
Finally she pulls something shiny and silver from the safe, and my heart skips.  It’s—
A gun.  

Don't forget to click those social icons and follow Lee Kelly for she have shared us her cool debut! And, and, and she is giving us a copy of City of Savages! Enter below!

One pre-order of a copy of CITY OF SAVAGES
It will arrive on the winner's doorstep on release day!

This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. You must be 13 years old and above. Use the Rafflecopter below to gain entries. The contest will end on December 30, 2014. Winner will be notified through e-mail. Winner will also be announced on this post via update. If winner has not responded within 48 hours, we will choose another. Enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner Update

Congratulations Rachel!
You WON the City of  Savages Pre-Ordered Copy Giveaway.
Please e-mail me your complete name and mailing address at eeliahgem@gmail(dot)com.
Thank you!

Thank you for everyone that participated! Until next time. <3

Let's leave it up to this quote from Emily Brontë: "And from the midst of cheerless gloom I passed to bright unclouded day."

  1. I looooove stories where the characters are pushed into tight corners to make decisions that are do or die. So with City of Savages being set in this sort of dystopian-like setting is something that makes me suuuuuper excited to read it. :D

    1. Me too! That's a reason too why I invited Miss Lee to do a feature on my blog. :)

  2. I'm so excited to read this!!!! The lovely Lee Kelly, is well, LOVELY <333 Her book sounds epic, I can't wait to read it!! (Should be soon) :)

  3. I love war stories so I'm definitely looking forward to this one. :)

    1. Hi Joy! I love war stories, too! Hope we'll read it soon.

  4. Definitely sounds intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  5. Oooooh, mystery and drama! I'm excited for this! :D

  6. Gah, this sounds like a really good one, can't wait to read it! Also, looove the cover! Great interview!
    Thanks for the chance to win it! :)

    1. Thank yoooooou, Sandra. :) You're welcome! Happy holidays.

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