Author Eliza S Robinson
This is the spoiler full review of The Purest Form of Chaos by Eliza S Robinson. If you would prefer to stay spoiler free but still want to read about how strong these two female protagonists are please visit here.
Thank you so much to Eliza S Robinson for providing me with a copy of her book in exchange for this honest review.
Have you read a lot of very popular dystopian novels and thought to yourself, goodness I wish this was less sexist? Well The Purest Form of Chaos is the answer to your dreams! It’s a dystopian epic hero’s journey that takes all of the tropes and rejects them for a far more progressive mindset and evolved set of morals.
It’s what happens when a feminist decides to stop looking for the book they want and just writes the damn thing themselves.
We follow the story of two young women, Phoenix and Persephone, as they fight for their lives and the future of their nation through post World War 3 Russia.
Before we get into the plot let me just say how absolutely refreshing it is to read a story about two female friends. Friends who are good to each other. They have their fights and flaws but mostly they are encouraging, uplifting, sympathetic, and generally good to each other. And they never fall in love with each other or come to the facetious conclusion that two women can only be good to each other if they’re secretly lesbians. It’s amazing. Get me more books like this!
Phoenix and a young man named Sol are kidnapped by the Tsar in a future around the year 2150. Haden, the Tsar, has taken them in but they are treated pretty well and are unclear about his motives.
Haden brings Persephone in to be a friend to Phoenix. Also, he might need a wife or his daddy will take his country away.
The three kidnap-ees become friends. Especially Phoenix and Persephone. They bond strongly and their friendship is beautiful. They bond so strongly that when Phoenix brings Persephone with her to burn down her old settlement Persephone barely hesitates.
They regularly break out of Haden’s castle and break back in before they can get in too much trouble. But on the way back from attempting to burn down the settlement they notice that riots have broken out. Maybe Haden isn’t such a competent Tsar after all.
They overhear him arguing with his father about how Haden never wanted to be the Tsar, he just wanted to be a scientist. His science is questionable, it’s brought up and left to the reader’s assumption that he may have at one point created a sort of Frankenstein’s monster that was cast aside.
He also has an obsession with fruit. He has a whole fruit lab dedicated to creating all sorts of fruits, he shows Persephone the lab in order to impress her and win her over.
Phoenix doesn’t eat fruit and never buys into Haden’s charisma. She does think that Sol is secretly in love with him though.
In an ongoing rebellion Phoenix brings Persephone to the radical bookstore she secretly works at. They sell books that have been banned by the Tsar’s fascist regime.
While Phoenix gets to go off and have a whole double life Persephone is being groomed to become the Tsarina. Haden forces her to attend a masquerade ball where he intends to introduce her as his fiance. He threatens her with the dungeons if she ever sneaks off with Phoenix again.
Persephone, miserable in her entrapment, meets a masked man named Andrei and has herself a good old fashioned anonymous flirt before her life is doomed to be chained to Haden.
After the marriage deal is struck Persephone learns that Andrei is Haden’s brother in law. His sister in law, Tatiana, is assigned to be Persephone’s chaperone. They go out on the town and lightweight Persephone gets drunk and kisses Tatiana. A very offended Tatiana drags her back home.
Being gay is not allowed in 2150 Russia. Even in over a hundred years people cannot accept a woman being bisexual. But let me tell you, as a bisexual woman I love seeing one as a protagonist!
Persephone and Haden are wed. She is literally sick over the whole situation but deludes herself into thinking that she’ll be able to use her position to enact change in the country.
She doesn’t want to feel like a prisoner, she wants to feel like a wife, so she attempts to make a move on Haden. He rebuffs her sexual advance and locks her in her bedroom.
When Persephone confronts Haden about this he says that they should grow to love each other before they take physical action on their relationship. I absolutely love that this book never indulges in a twisted power struggle rape fantasy! Consent is key!
It is around this time that we discover Phoenix is actually the settlement’s President’s daughter. She was not simply a resident there. She runs away from Haden to find the mother that had abandoned her in that awful place.
Persephone and Sol escape to go find Phoenix. Persephone is all over the news as the kidnapped Tsarina. They run into Drew, who worked with Phoenix at the underground bookstore. He recognizes Persephone but keeps her secret to keep her safe.
They find Phoenix at her mother’s house. She has decided to stay to protect her mother from her new abusive husband.
Persephone and Sol decide to continue their journey without Phoenix and Sol decides to show Persephone how he intends to take down the Tsar. Sol shows Persephone pictures of himself in sexual congress with Haden. Sol seduced him and intends to leak the pictures so that they’ll lynch him like the pervert he is. See, Sol isn’t a disgusting gay pervert like the Tsar, so he says.
Persephone is revolted at this plan. She shames Sol and says he is no longer her friend. The Tsar may be evil in other ways but he should never be punished based on his sexuality!
Persephone leaves Sol to join Drew and his band of drifters. She attempts to kiss Drew and gets rejected because she’s technically married. This poor girl really needs some affection!
Phoenix, unaware of Sol’s actions, receives a package from him containing some money and a gun. He also says he’s taken her instructions to send Haden’s fruit to a lab for testing.
Phoenix quickly ends up using this gun against her mother’s abusive husband when he attempts to hurt the whole family in a drunken rage. She murders him and her mother still doesn’t see him for the scum he is so she flees to find Persephone.
After reconciling they journey to the lab testing Haden’s fruit. They make two huge discoveries here. One, Haden’s fruit has been modified to have some emotion controlling powers. Two, Persephone is actually a type of android created by Haden.
She’s that aforementioned Frankenstein monster. She doesn’t take it well.
This is when the book starts to really separate itself from the pack. There’s a reason it’s set in 2150 and not 1600. Many dystopian novels forget that technology still would exist. Humans will never go completely backward regardless of war or climate change or poverty or anything. That groundwork has been laid. Robots are still a thing in the collective consciousness.
So Persephone is dealing with the mother of all existential crises when Sol comes back into the picture. She doesn’t tell Phoenix about his offenses but is openly resentful of him.
Haden hunts Sol down and demands that he back down from the blackmail. Sol refuses so Haden straight murders him and takes back his bride.
Flash to a few months later. Phoenix is attending school in conjunction with the fruit lab. She has befriended a fellow student named Kai.
Persephone is pregnant.
Phoenix gets drunk and attempts to seduce her friend Kai. He appreciates the offer and wants to sleep with her but opts to wait until she’s sober. Yay consent!!!
The next day they have a talk and a sober kiss but Phoenix panics and runs away.
Persephone wakes up having been unconscious for the duration of her pregnancy. She realizes she has given birth and Haden brings her her daughter “just this once.”
She wants to fight for her daughter but is unable to do so alone. She escapes and finds Drew since she has no where else to go. He turns out to be pretty cool with the whole Persephone not being human thing and they make respectful love with each other.
Persephone realizes that she must find Phoenix again. They forgive each other their transgressions and decide to stage a coup. Besties don’t let besties fall victim to oppressive regimes.
They meet with Andrei and Titania’s mother to see about making Persephone the face of a revolution. This book does a really good job at bringing characters back around. Not one superfluous one in the bunch.
Persephone appears on television to make a speech about all of Haden’s mind control and other sins. He sees it and orders a media blackout but not before Phoenix’s father catches sight of her on TV and sees where she has been all this time.
He sends her a very threatening letter and Phoenix is freaked. She tells Kai that she must go to war and he should wait for her. Yay gender role reversals!
Phoenix and Persephone are in Army training when Drew breaks up with Persephone in a letter. Then he shows up in the events saying he’s been working underground for her war efforts. Also, twist!, he’s actually Andrei. Has been this whole time.
He tells them about how his mother has been manipulating Persephone’s war and it needs to end.
Persephone agrees to end the war and also agrees to finally be examined as a robot. The scientist accidentally triggers something during the examination and Persephone just repeats “must kill” over and over again as Phoenix is arrested for the murder of her step father.
She manages to convince the court that she isn’t who they say she is and she’s released from court only to be taken prisoner by her father. He takes her to his dungeons where he force feeds her fruit until she’s sick.
Kai comes to rescue her but her father puts him in the knife room. Just as scary as it sounds. She saves him and they go to try to save Persephone.
Through Persephone’s mouth they hear Haden’s voice say that she’ll self destruct soon if they don’t fix her. Turns out she was infected with a computer virus.
She heals and is becoming well again when she makes a tough decision. She chooses a future for herself over love with Drew and goes into confrontation with Haden. She ends up demanding that Haden put an end to her, his creation.
He is incapable of murdering the creation that he loves in his own way but someone else appears to do it for him. Haden’s mysterious mother shows up, murders Persephone, and disappears into the wind.
Holy shit right!! So there is going to be a sequel and I cannot wait! What a ride! This book has it all and takes out all of the sexist garbage that usually bogs down these kinds of books.
The Purest Form of Chaos is the kind of book that makes me feel so lucky to get to read these indie books. It’s original, smart, entertaining, and groundbreaking. It takes a genre that people absolutely love but makes it so much better.
You can really tell it’s written by an author with a deep respect of the genre but who always felt dissatisfied with the flaws of it. Eliza S Robinson fixes the flaws without having to write satire. It’s not a joke, it’s not making fun of any other books, it’s just it’s own better book.
I highly recommend this book to every feminist out there and anyone who thinks they love dystopian literature. You thought you loved it before but this book shows you how much better it can be.
5/5 fruits 🍍🍎🍋🍌🍉
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