"Rising" by Nelle Nikole - Book Review

"Rising" by Nelle Nikole - Book Review

I’m going to come right out and say this book is going to make me consider adding Dystopian fantasy to my regular reading list. There are multiple things done right in this story and a few things I’m interested to see expanded on in the upcoming release, but one thing is for certain: you are going to enjoy this book. The world, the characters, the writing style and the blatant call to action will have you wishing for more! I will say there will be minor spoilers in this review, so consider this your first and final warning!


  • As someone who doesn’t read Dystopian fantasy, this book was the first read of 2024 and was completely out of my comfort zone. I am used to traveling to different worlds and having to learn about a new environment. This book, however, is set with familiar cities we know (they just happen to be overrun with zombies, or Pansies, who formed after a nuclear explosion turned the world upside down). You would think that a world set after some people lost their humanity and others gained elemental powers, the world would be masked in darkness - but that thought process would be wrong. Nikole does a fantastic job of giving us a “normal” place called The Compound where a large majority of remaining citizens have gathered to grow food, work to build housing, dinner times, and train some form of an army. I loved the homebase and what it represented to these characters. There was somehow beauty to be found in the midst of the chaos - shoutout to my boy Jax!

Character Development

  • This book does follow multiple POVs from characters you’re not going to forget. I would argue this book takes the found family trope and pushes it to the limit in a way that’ll have you routing for their success! With a diverse cast and a variety of personalities, the author makes it easy to get used to seeing multiple characters on and off the page. I have to say my favorite character was our main leading lady, Amaia. We do spend the most time with her and you won’t catch me complaining about it. I loved how we were able to see humanity and grief navigated through the eyes of multiple people, but it was something so raw and emotional about Amaia that had me locked in with her from the very beginning. I often caught myself reflecting on how I would have handled situations or reacted when things were going south. Whether you agree with her or if you think she did certain actions completely wrong, you can’t deny this character brings up amazing points of thought.


  • This could be a genre or preference, but the pacing in the beginning is a little bit slow. I will say those beginning chapters do set up for some amazing payoffs towards the end, so you will appreciate those moments because once this book picks up, there’s no stopping it. This is to be expected in a debut novel, especially when setting up for another book, so don’t let the rush for a destination keep you from enjoying the journey. The twists are definitely twisting in this book, and let’s just say the betrayal had me ready to throw hands. It made the slow parts in the beginning completely worth it.

Themes/ Symbolism/ Messages

  • I mentioned this earlier, but I think it’s worth repeating how this book constantly made me check my thought process. How would you act if you ended up losing your entire family and had to make a new one? What would you do if you were the leader of a group of powerful people who are now being picked off one by one by a force you had no idea existed? All of these questions made me want to keep reaching for the next chapter. I can confidently say that Nelle Nikole is an indie author to keep on your reading list!

For all of my “sticking to what I love” genre readers, I highly recommend this book for stepping out of your comfort zone. You all know I’m a lover of YA fantasy stories, but it was something so conversational about the writing style of this book that almost had it playing out like a TV show in my head. It ended up being more than a book about gaining powers and fighting zombies. It took a bold statement in the right direction (and a couple popular references to drop you into the story) which is why I cannot wait to read the second book when it comes out. By the time you see this review, ARC sign ups would have closed, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading this book now and grabbing her second book, Echoes of War which will be releasing later this year!

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