Killer of EnemiesApr 28th, 2014 | By rwinn | Category: 25-4: Nation Building, Media Reviews
By Joseph Bruchac
Tu Books (2013)
Review by Ryan Winn
Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac is a masterful storyteller. His young adult, speculative fiction novel Killer of Enemies affirms this with an imaginative saga set in the not-so-distant future. In the novel, “a cloud” has settled over the world causing all electronics to “cease working…even batteries.” This “end to the age of Edison” has caused the wealthy—who had previously implanted multiple electronic “improvements” into their bodies—to perish. However, four members of the “pre-cloud” upper-class survive with facial disfigurements; hence, “The Ones,” as they call themselves, don masks and use their influence to establish haven for the lower-class survivors. This sanctuary is a refuge that’s run like the former prison it’s housed in. Yet it provides food, shelter, and relative safety to its inhabitants in exchange for submission.
Driven by lust for either security or riches, The Ones force Lozen, the novel’s 17-year-old Apache narrator, to venture out alone to kill the genetically modified creatures that freely roam and retrieve the objects they covet. Armed with guns, knowledge of hand-to-hand combat, and the gift of telepathy, she is well-equipped for the challenge. However, The Ones are as fickle in their affection for Lozen as they are loyal to each other, so she must simultaneously do their bidding and plan for her family’s escape.
Bruchac’s skill is apparent not just in his action-driven plot, but also in the book’s historical connections. Lozen is named after her ancestor, “the warrior woman of the Chiricahuas,” who used her “mystical powers to find enemies” during the Apache resistance to Mexico and the U.S. during the 19th century. The two women are rich in similarities, creating a novel that both honors Apache tradition and articulates how Native lifeways will always be indispensable.
Ryan Winn is the Humanities Department chair at College of Menominee Nation.