In Conversation with Zoe Cannon

In conversation with Zoe Cannon, author of the Internal Defense series, a dystopian fiction:

What/who inspired you to start writing?

Honestly, it’s hard to say, because I can’t remember a time when I haven’t known that this was what I wanted to do with my life. If anything, my love for books inspired me, because books are the one thing I’ve loved longer than writing. But I think I was just born with a head full of stories to tell.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in New Hampshire with my husband and a cuddly giant of a dog. I write dark dystopian novels, but I’m actually a pretty cheerful and idealistic person in real life. It sometimes surprises people when they talk to me after they’ve read my books, because they expect me to be full of doom and gloom about the future and instead I get excited about the possibilities for where we might go from here.

What is your favourite genre?

I like to read a little of everything (except horror – I don’t think I’ll ever understand the appeal of being scared for fun), but my favorite books tend to be YA, especially YA science fiction and fantasy. I love the way YA books can blend genres more easily than adult books, as well as the focus on characters’ inner lives and their struggles to become the people they want to be.

Which is your favourite book?

There are too many! But one of my favorites is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It’s a brilliantly-written YA novel about friendship in World War II.

Who is your favourite author?

Again, that’s a difficult one to answer… but probably Lois McMaster Bujold. I’m mostly a fan of her science fiction, but I’ve also read and enjoyed a couple of her fantasy novels. Aside from presenting the most realistic vision I’ve ever read, her novels are both genuinely fun and deeply thought-provoking.

What are your hobbies?

Aside from writing, I like to play with 3D art, and every so often I’ll get into a gaming mood and spend days or weeks engrossed in one game or another. And I usually have my nose in a book.

Perfect holiday destination?

Anywhere with a beach! I love the ocean so much I sometimes suspect I should have been born a dolphin. I got the chance to visit Hawaii a few years ago, and I’d love to go back.

Describe a perfect day.

To be honest, a perfect day for me would look much the same as an ordinary day does for me these days. I get up late, I work on whatever my current writing project is, I read, I snuggle with my dog, I have long and geeky conversations with my wonderful husband. I stay up until all hours of the night (or morning) writing and daydreaming and playing games. What more could I ask for?

Which is the best part of writing a story?

The best part, for me, is before I start actually writing the story, when I’m still figuring out what I want it to be. That’s when I get most of my ideas – in the initial brainstorming phase, before I’ve set a single word down on paper. It’s an amazing feeling, when a book first starts coming together in my mind. It feels like putting a puzzle together, only I’m creating all the pieces myself.

How much inspiration do you draw on from real life experiences? With respect to plot, characters etc.

I’m sure there are aspects of my life in my stories, because everyone’s life experiences affect who they are and what they think and the kinds of stories they believe in – which is, of course, where all writing comes from. But I never set out to write from my own experiences. Why would I write about my own life when the ones I can create are so much more interesting? 🙂

Book Review: No Return by Zoe Cannon (An Internal Defense novel)

no return


Every dissident knows about Becca Dalcourt.

They know about the lives she’s saved. About the prison break she carried out against impossible odds. They know she turned a dying resistance into the first real threat Internal Defense has faced in a long time.

And even now, with the resistance under attack from the inside, they know Becca can save them.

They’re wrong.

The conclusion to the story that began with The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary Sacrifices, No Return explores what happens when an ordinary person becomes a legend – and how to choose between who you are and who the world needs you to be.

My Thoughts:

I have previously read and reviewed the first two books in the series: The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary Sacrifices

No Return is the final book in the Internal Defense series which will be out this month.

The book now focuses on Becca as the leader of the Resistance. this story is about how Becca tries to work against Internal and stop what they do. The story continues from where it left off in the second novel and we are re-introduced to some characters once again. We are shown how hard it is for the people to work together even though they are united by a common cause and how true friendship can make a huge difference.

The characters are well placed throughout the book and each one has their own role to play making everyone a hero and not just Becca. The author has truly brought out the feelings of a mother and her daughter, the bond they share and how love can make a person do anything. One message we can take away from this story is to stick to your principles no matter what happens. It never pays to compromise.

I loved this book, perhaps more than the first two. It is fast paced and will keep the reader hooked on and turning the pages. I did not feel like stopping until I found out what happens. The climax is chilling and unexpected making you go through a variety of emotions and it may take time to reconcile with the ending which comes as a huge shock. However, after reflection I think this is a wonderful twist to the story an thus invites more and lays a good ground for another story.

A dystopian fiction like no other this series has me hooked onto the genre. I have enjoyed the experience of the series so far and  cannot wait to read more.

Do catch this book later this month then it comes out! It is a worthy end to the series.

Necessary Sacrifices by Zoe Cannon

necessary sacrifice

Book Blurb:

A year and a half ago, Becca Dalcourt joined the resistance. Three months ago, she started working undercover inside Internal Defense. A year from now, she’ll probably be dead. She knows the odds. She’s seen how the life of a double agent ends.

All she wants is a chance to do something with what little time she has left. Something big. Something meaningful. But the resistance doesn’t trust her, and her job transcribing torture sessions hasn’t given her anything but the names of dissidents whose lives, according to her resistance contact, aren’t worth saving.

So when she discovers a secret government program designed to brainwash dissidents into loyal citizens, she resolves to shut it down, no matter the cost. Even if her plan puts everyone she loves in danger. Even if the most experienced resistance fighters say it can’t be done. Even if it means betraying the only person who sees past the mask she wears every day.

Even if she has to do it alone.

The sequel to THE TORTURER’S DAUGHTER, which has been praised for its dark realism, NECESSARY SACRIFICES asks how you fight an enemy that can’t be defeated… and what sacrifices are worth making along the way.


My thoughts:

If you have read the Torturer’s Daughter then it is definitely a must to read the sequel. If you haven’t read the first book then I think it’s time to pick up the book and read it. I’d say it is definitely worth it. The books come under the genre of Dystopian Fiction and are much like The Hunger Games in that the government functions a certain way and there are people who support it and who do not. True to the meaning of dystopia, this story revolves around the way the government controls everything that happens and how people are labelled rebels and punished for crimes they may not have even committed.

Necessary Sacrifices is the sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter. The story follows Becca as she starts supporting the resistance and tries to make a difference while having joined Internal (the government). Though she doesn’t like what her mother has done, she still loves her the same. Her job is to transcribe the interviews conducted with people who have been caught for dissident activity.

The story progresses well and provides a better insight into how the people are trying to retaliate against Internal. We gain more insight into the functioning of the resistance and Becca’s association with them. Though the daughter of the most powerful lady in Internal, Becca realises that she is a dissident at heart and nothing can change that. She realises she can relate to their point of view as she thinks the same way. A more mature side of her is portrayed in this story.

The well developed character sketches and the twists in the plot keep the reader hooked on to the book. The book is definitely worth reading and is a wonderful sequel to the first. For all the fans of Dystopian fiction or just the Hunger Games, this series is definitely worth a read.

The Torturer’s Daughter by Zoe Cannon

the torturer's daughter Aa2


When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca Dalcourt assumes it’s the usual drama. Wrong. Heather’s parents have been arrested as dissidents – and Becca’s mother, the dystopian regime’s most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.

To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents’ innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn’t expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents… and about her mother.

When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn’t the only one with secrets – and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it’s no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime’s crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice.

It’s easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? The Torturer’s Daughter is a story about ordinary life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime… and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what’s right in a world gone wrong.

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Becca’s steps slowed as she approached Processing 117. The floodlights of the parking lot shone down on her, exposing her. Past the lot, the darkness threatened to close in. There was no other source of light nearby except for the dim glow of the streetlamps, nothing but trees for at least a mile in every direction.

The concrete structure loomed taller than its five stories—maybe because of the invisible presence of the underground levels, or maybe because in a moment Becca was going to have to walk inside.

Heather can’t have been arrested. If she were a prisoner, they wouldn’t have let her call.

But when Becca remembered the panic in Heather’s voice, the thought wasn’t all that reassuring anymore.

Becca took the last few steps across the not-quite-empty parking lot. The windows of the upper floors glowed in a patchwork of lights, showing who was working another late night and who was at home sleeping… or down on the underground levels. Becca knew that in one of those dark offices, a phone had been ringing off the hook for the past half-hour, its owner oblivious to Becca’s pleas for her to answer, to find Heather for her, to fix this.

Becca reached the double doors of the entrance—and froze. Her heart thudded against her ribcage.

Heather is in there, she reminded herself. Heather needs me.

She pulled the doors open and stepped inside.

The doors slammed shut behind her, the noise echoing off the stark white walls. Security cameras stared down at her from the ceiling. The guards, one to either side of the metal detector, pinned her to the floor with their eyes, but said nothing.

Opposite the metal detector from Becca, the room was bare except for a huge metal desk with corners that looked sharp enough to cut. Behind the desk, a dark-haired woman with a headset clipped to her ear stopped mid-yawn and jerked up to face her.

Becca held her breath and stepped through the metal detector. Its light flashed green, and one of the guards waved her forward. She let her breath out and stepped up to the desk.

She eyed the woman’s crisp gray suit, and the desk that gleamed like it had never seen a speck of dust in its life. Then she looked down at her own clothes, the jeans and wrinkled t-shirt she had grabbed from her dresser after hanging up with Heather. She crossed her arms around her stomach.

The receptionist’s bleary surprise had vanished, replaced by a stone mask. “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for…” Becca bit back the name on her lips. No. If she were in her office, she would have answered the phone. Anyway, Becca could imagine her reaction at finding out about this midnight walk to 117. Becca was on her own.

“…Heather Thomas,” she finished. “She called me half an hour ago and told me she was here.”

The receptionist’s expression didn’t tell Becca anything.

“She’s here… somewhere… she called me…” Becca’s voice trailed off. I’m not doing anything wrong, she told herself. I’m not a dissident. Heather’s not a dissident.

Which led Becca back to the question that had been circling through her mind since she had gotten Heather’s call. What was Heather doing here?

The receptionist turned away and tapped something out on her keyboard. It only took her a few seconds to find what she was looking for. She typed in something else and touched her earpiece. “We have a detainee in temporary holding,” she said to someone Becca couldn’t see. “Last name Thomas. Her file says she’s waiting for a relative to collect her. Right, that’s the one. Someone forgot to collect her phone, and she called a friend.” A pause. “No, that won’t be necessary. Just confiscate the phone.”

She turned back to Becca. “Heather Thomas is waiting for her guardian to arrive. Are you Lydia Thomas?” She gave Becca a skeptical once-over.

Becca considered saying yes, but even if the receptionist weren’t going to ask for proof, there was no way she could pass as Heather’s… aunt, she remembered after a moment. Aunt Lydia, the one who always looked at Becca and Heather like being in high school was catching.

The receptionist took her silence as an answer. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Becca wanted nothing more than to do just that. But she couldn’t leave and let this place swallow Heather. “If she’s waiting for her aunt to get here, I can wait with her until she shows up.”

“I’m sorry,” said the receptionist, already turning back to her computer. “The policy is clear. The detainee will remain in temporary holding—alone—until her guardian arrives.”

Becca was losing ground. And somewhere in this building, Heather was waiting for her. “I’m not trying to take her home or anything. I only want to…” To make sure she wasn’t locked away underground. To make sure they hadn’t gotten her mixed up with somebody else, some dissident slated for execution. “…to let her know I’m here. I promised her I’d—”

“Your refusal to leave the building when instructed will be recorded.” The receptionist placed her hands on her keyboard. “May I have your name?”

“At least tell me what happened. Why is she here? Is she all right?”

“Your name, please,” the receptionist repeated.

If she stayed much longer, the receptionist would order the guards to drag her out—or worse, in. She could end up in one of those underground cells… She shivered. They couldn’t do that to her just for asking about Heather, right?

“Your name,” the receptionist repeated again, with a glance toward the guards.

Becca slumped. “Rebecca Dalcourt.”

The receptionist blinked.

“Well,” she said, her voice suddenly warmer, “I suppose we can make an exception.”

Author Bio:

Zoe Cannon writes about the things that fascinate her: outsiders, societies no sane person would want to live in, questions with no easy answers, and the inner workings of the mind. If she couldn’t be a writer, she would probably be a psychologist, a penniless philosopher, or a hermit in a cave somewhere. While she’ll read anything that isn’t nailed down, she considers herself a YA reader and writer at heart. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and a giant teddy bear of a dog, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.

Connect with the Author:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

My Thoughts:

The story focuses on how the protagonist, Becca believes in standing by her friends and fighting for what is right even if it means going against those you love most dearly, in this case her mother, Raleigh Dalcourt. The story is set in a dystopian society where the government’s say is final and they can arrest anyone they think is going against them. Such people are called “dissidents”.

The way in which the protagonist deals with some truths she comes across and the way she handles the confrontation with her mother, who happens to work for internal and is their most infamous processor, forms the crux of the story. The decisions she has to make especially when your loved ones are involved is what this story deals with.We also become aware of the decisions people may take out of fear or love. Such decisions can prove to be the tuning point in some situations.

It is a well written story with a plot that unfolds smoothly and keeps you turning the pages for more. The characters are well rounded and are easy to relate to. This is a story that I recommend for everyone especially the young adults and people who love this genre out there!