Carrie Vaughn
Bannerless Cover



After the collapse of society, people have rebuilt in small, carefully controlled, communities. These communities grow only what they need to support those who live there. Every member of a household has a job and a purpose. And if there's excess or success that proves another can be provided for, they're granted a banner and permission to have a child. Then and only then are they allowed to remove the implant that prevents pregnancy. Then and only then are they allowed to procreate. They know it's the only way to survive and avoid the same fate that claimed their ancestors.

Enid is a member of Haven, where she's lived her whole life. And she's started a household with three others, a household that has recently been granted its own banner. Enid is an investigator, her society's version of law enforcement. It's her job to travel where needed, answering the call for help whether it be an accusation of hoarding, an illegal pregnancy, or worse.

When Enid and her enforcer, Tomas, are called to Pasadan to look into a suspicious death, they find they aren't entirely welcome. The dead man fell and the people of Pasadan are sure it was an accident. But Enid isn't so certain. As she begins her inquiry, questioning the people of Pasadan, she's met with increasing resistance. And though the village seems quiet and law abiding on the surface, Enid soon learns that may not be the case at all.

Bannerless is a post apocalyptic dystopian novel - and I'm not going to lie when I say I'm not done with this genre by a long shot! So knowing that from the outset made this one an appealing read. That it's set generations after said apocalypse, when society has moved on and learned to live with and work with what they have is of even more appeal.

Enid is aware of some of what came before the fall. She's spent time reading the (fortunately) paper journals kept by the only member of Haven who lived through it. And she knows that even her job was much different before the fall. But she doesn't have those technologies at hand to help her in her investigation. Instead, she has to rely on instinct and questioning.

The story is told through two alternating timelines - the Pasadan investigation "present day" and Enid's past, the time before she started her household. It's this past timeline that really gives the reader a better understing of Enid's world.

In that timeline, she travels from community to community, remarking on the things she sees and experiences, broadening our sense of the world as it is now. She passes ruins of a big city, now said to be overrun with thieves and scavengers of the type worth avoiding. She passes an outpost quarantined and off limits. But it's not all doom and gloom, she also passes villages that celebrate visitors and news from other communities. People who are happy to share what little they have in exchange for what a traveler can offer. In this way, Enid gives readers a chance to see the world through her eyes and learn what's become of it and how it all works.

But her past also informs her present in many ways. First, it allowed her to experience things beyond Haven and to grow as a person. Second, it helped her decide to become and investigator. And third, well, you'll kind of have to see for yourself.

For some, Enid's point of view may prove to be a bit limiting in terms of world building, but I quite loved Enid and enjoyed experiencing her world alongside her. Plus, this is apparently the first in a series, so limited or not it's not the only piece of this world we'll be getting!

I also really liked the way the mystery built. It's not what I would call a suspenseful read in the traditional sense, but the suspense is there. What happened to the dead man? Why was he so universally disliked? And what is really going on in Pasadan?

I found Bannerless to be great fun, just the thing I needed to help me get through a slump!