A story about find­ing hu­man­ity in our en­e­mies

B.C.-based au­thor’s young adult novel tells a rous­ing ad­ven­ture that also says some­thing about our world

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - ALEESHA HAR­RIS

Canada is the set­ting for this dystopian re­lease from B.C.-based au­thor Gabrielle “G.S.” Pren­der­gast ti­tled Zero Re­peat For­ever.

But the book, which tells the tale of a hu­man, Raven, and an alien sol­dier, Eighth, aims to get read­ers think­ing a bit be­yond an ex­trater­res­trial con­fronta­tion here on Earth.

In ad­vance of the book’s re­lease (it hit stores Tuesday), Pren­der­gast chat­ted with Post­media about “ar­moured Nahx,” mis­trust and why no­body re­ally wins in a war.

Q: What is Zero Re­peat For­ever about?

A: It’s about a group of Cana­dian teens strug­gling to sur­vive af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing alien in­va­sion, and in par­tic­u­lar one girl, Raven, and her con­fronta­tion with one of the in­vaders, an alien sol­dier known only by his rank, Eighth. Who is the book for? The book is for any­one who loves to read young adult books, specif­i­cally dystopian ac­tion ad­ven­ture sto­ries that say some­thing about our present world. Read­ers or view­ers who en­joyed Warm Bod­ies by Isaac Mar­ion or The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey might en­joy this one. Also fans of the Ter­mi­na­tor movies. There’s a fair bit of ac­tion, but also a lot of char­ac­ter-driven drama. It’s like a deep dive into the back­ground of a clas­sic bat­tle story, so any­one who en­joys war sto­ries will find some­thing ap­peal­ing here, too.

What in­spired you to write this novel?

Ini­tially, I was in­spired by a dream, which ended up be­ing a scene in the book — a long climb up many flights of stairs. But later, I was in­spired by dif­fer­ent sto­ries of mor­tal en­e­mies com­ing to­gether de­spite fear and mis­trust — ev­ery­thing from Beauty and the Beast, to En­emy Mine, to How to Train Your Dragon.

The book cen­tres around an in­va­sion of Earth by “ar­moured Nahx.” What ex­actly are Nahx?

The Nahx are a mas­sive army of seven-foot-tall sol­diers who en­act a ground as­sault on hu­mans.

They are heav­ily ar­moured and ruth­lessly driven to fol­low their di­rec­tives. The book’s sec­ond nar­ra­tor, Eighth, is a Nahx, and it’s through his eyes we come to learn that ev­ery­thing we think we know about the Nahx is not nec­es­sar­ily true.

Much more will be re­vealed in the next book.

Did you have any­thing par­tic­u­lar in mind when you cre­ated these crea­tures?

Eighth’s in­ter­ac­tions with hu­mans are very much in­spired by how I imag­ine other in­tel­li­gent an­i­mals must see us — there’s his cu­rios­ity mixed with dis­may at how frag­ile we seem, and dis­or­ga­nized.

I was also in­spired by clas­sic tales of “not quite hu­man” he­roes and anti-he­roes — Franken­stein, Pinoc­chio, The Golem of Prague, The Ter­mi­na­tor, The Iron Giant and oth­ers.

The two main char­ac­ters, Raven and Eighth, must form an un­likely part­ner­ship in or­der to sur­vive. What can read­ers ex­pect to see come from this bizarre pair­ing?

There’s ini­tially a lot of fight­ing and mis­trust.

It’s partly a clash of cul­tures, partly a lan­guage bar­rier, and a lot of the skewed power dy­namic of in­vader ver­sus in­vadee.

But later there’s heart­break, as they both come to know each other’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and sad his­to­ries. I hope read­ers will be drawn into their strug­gle to over­come their prej­u­dice and fear.

With­out spoil­ing too much for read­ers, can you say whether or not this is a clas­sic case of the hu­mans al­ways win in the end?

No. Noth­ing so sim­ple as that. I don’t think any­one ever re­ally wins a war.

Lastly, what do you hope peo­ple take away from this book?

I hope peo­ple think about how eas­ily so-called civ­i­liza­tion can slip into bar­barism in the right (or wrong) cir­cum­stances. I also hope peo­ple re­mem­ber to al­ways look for the hu­man in their en­e­mies or op­po­nent no mat­ter who they are.

Gabrielle (G.S.) Pren­der­gast is the B.C.-based au­thor of Zero Re­peat For­ever, a new young adult novel fea­tur­ing an alien in­va­sion.

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