Readers will enjoy character-driven nail-biter

Readers will enjoy character-driven nail-biter

"Reduced" is Robin Tidwell's first novel in her science fiction trilogy about a biological agent that is reducing the population, and in some cases, making the human bodies disappear. The story takes place in the St. Louis region, where the author also lives and owns a bookstore.

Although it's a science fiction, post-apocalyptic thriller, it's actually character-driven with a strong female main character that readers will love. Abby has flaws, humor, strength, loyalty, compassion and survivor skills — all important when the world is coming to an end and the population is dwindling thousands at a time.

When "Reduced" opens, Abby and her best friend, Emmy, join a group of old friends who have also survived the "attack." They meet at an abandoned summer camp and soon set up a place to live and hide from any danger — from the danger of the biological agent and the people who released it.

Each person has a strength to add to the well-being of the camp, and soon they become like a family, adding a few surviving stragglers here or there. Most of these new people can be trusted ... or can they?

Among the trustworthy are a little girl named Juliet, who has an instant liking and bond with Abby, and a dog!

As the novel continues, Tidwell reveals clues as to what's going on in the country and the threats the characters are facing as the characters find out themselves. This technique keeps the reader guessing who's good, who's bad and what's actually going on in the world. It also will keep readers turning pages quickly to get to the end and discover what's happening.

Once Abby and her friends discover who is responsible for the attack, they realize that a new government is taking over. People are killed or herded into the city. Horrible laws are put in to place against pregnant women and the elderly. Entire towns are wiped off the map as government controls tighten.

One thing's for sure: Tidwell is not afraid to injure her characters or even kill them off. Because of this, the reader can never be sure if someone is going to make it out of a sticky situation or not. Because it's character-driven and the main character is so likable and strong, this can cause a few nail-biting sessions while reading, especially if you're not a fan of poisonous snakes.

The end of the novel is surprising: There's danger, love, action, and of course, death. You won't be disappointed. This novel's story is complete, but if you want to continue the adventure of Abby, then you'll have to check out "Reused." The third book in the series will be out in July and is titled, "Recycled."

Tidwell has sample chapters from both books that are currently out on her website at Besides the sample chapters, interviews and events schedule, the author also writes a blog about her life and books. She has a marketing book for authors for under a $1 on her site, too. Tidwell has an interesting and varied background, and according to her bio, "tries very hard to make it through one week at a time without a crisis."

If you like character-driven novels with strong female protagonists, then you will enjoy "Reduced," and you'll want to keep reading to find out what happens to Abby and her loved ones.

Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" ( She lives in St. Louis with her family.

Topics (1):Books