The Wayward Youth of ‘Substance’ (A Review)

UMF English Department Blog

Substance coverReview by Curtis Cole

        Author Ashlyn Forge understands the finer points of drama: foregoing melodrama in favor of subdued, almost amnesiac thread of low-intensity existential angst, Forge’s standalone—Substance—set in her “Toys and Soldiers” universe, crafts a wrenching coming of age story set in an oppressive civilization called “The Colony.”

Protagonist Phil, a trainee of the martial arts master Job—the Colony’s most notorious sensei—is a typical sixteen year old: he lives with his father, a miner, idolizes Gara (a musical superstar), and is desperate to make his family proud, while at the same time resenting the overbearing affection placed on him while he simply wants to try and find his own way in life. An introvert, however, Phil finds it hard to become the extroverted, highly physical, warrior elite his father pines for as a means of financially liberating them to a higher class. With…

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