Review: Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

May Contain Spoilers

I listened to the audio book until the last three chapters, which I read as quickly as I could. Overall, this was a very engaging book, exploring how horribly political unrest can escalate. I decided to give it a listen because it is frightening plausible – in Divided We Fall, a new ID law that the president signed into law is the catalyst for a rapidly unstable political landscape.

The story is told by Danny Wright, a 17 year old high school senior who joined the Idaho National Guard during the summer. Danny needs the extra money, and he wants to honor his father’s memory by serving his country. He and his mother have been on their own since his father was killed while serving in the armed forces. Danny’s mother suffers from acute panic attacks. Danny will do anything in his power to help his mother, and he is sensitive to keeping his nose clean so she has nothing to freak out about.

The governor orders the National Guard to report to Boise to help keep order during a protest. The guard members are given guns and live ammo, something way above their current pay grade, and are ordered to keep more people from joining the riots downtown. Things quickly get out of hand, and Danny’s gun fires, setting up the Battle of Boise. Several civilians are killed, and soon the public is calling for blood. They want the soldiers responsible for the murder of innocent civilians, and they want them now.

What follows is basically a pissing match between the Idaho governor and the POTUS. It keeps building on itself, and soon the situation is so far out of control there is really no solution to the problem other than more bloodshed. The governor has promised to keep the names of  Danny and the other members of the guard confidential, but the POTUS, demanding they be turned over for trial, outs their identities. Suddenly Danny has a lot more to worry about than exams and playing on the football team.

The narration was very engaging. News broadcasts and message board entries were worked into the dialog, giving a larger view to the issue than just Danny’s observations. I liked Danny, but I thought he did some really dumb things. And each time he did another really dumb thing, he made the situation he was in even worse. The political divide in the book eerily mirrors the current political divide of our country. I can only hope that cooler heads prevail in real life.

Grade: 3.75 stars

Review copy provided by

About the book:

From the author of the acclaimed WORDS IN THE DUST: an action-packed YA novel set in a frighteningly plausible near future, about what happens when the States are no longer United.
Danny Wright never thought he’d be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enlisted in the National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the Idaho governor’s orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd-control mission … but then Danny’s gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd, and by the time the smoke clears, twelve people are dead.

The president wants the soldiers arrested. The governor swears to protect them. And as tensions build on both sides, the conflict slowly escalates toward the unthinkable: a second American civil war.
With political questions that are popular in American culture yet rare in YA fiction, and a provocative plot that could far too easily become real, DIVIDED WE FALL is Trent Reedy’s very timely YA debut.