The Dwellers Saga and the Country Saga by David Estes

This series really caught me by surprise. I had bought the audio book on Audible because they had The Moon Dwellers, The Star Dwellers, and The Sun Dwellers all together in one bundle. I didn't think I was going to love it, but it had an interesting aspect to it. So, I started. About halfway through the first book, I realized this was something that had really piqued my interest, so I did some searching on Goodreads and saw that there was a fourth, The Earth Dwellers, that wasn't included in the bundle. Turns out, it combines the Dwellers Saga with another series, the Country Saga, and that you shouldn't read it until finishing the other six books. Well, now I had to finish all of it, and David Estes did not disappoint.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
The People Who Live Under Ground

The Dwellers series starts out by explaining that a huge meteorite was coming towards the Earth and so the American people built a shelter beneath the surface of the Earth that eventually evolved into three realms: Star, Moon, and Sun. Like every typical political systems, the Sun Dwellers got the best of the best and lived lives that seemed impossible to the lower classes (they also stole from the lower classes, but hid it); the Moon Dwellers were the "middle class" but it was far off from the American middle class, maybe upper-lower class; and the Star Dwellers were the lower class, living in the severest forms of poverty.

(Source: Giphy)
The three books follow two main characters: Tristan Nailin, son of the president, and Adele Rose, a prisoner unjustly sentenced. Through the course of the books, they, along with their friends and family work to overthrow President Nailin, while attempting to reunite Adele's family and unite the three realms. It doesn't help that Tristan's father has sent out a psychopath, Rivet, to capture and kill Adele. 

At the end of the third book, Tristan reveals to his surviving friends (yes, lots of death in these books) that his father had been working on creating a civilization on the Earth's surface, and that there is a small city of Earth Dwellers there now. However, Tristan doesn't know how bad it is as his father was eventually cut off from that community. Adele and Tristan travel to the Earth's surface to learn what they can where they are rudely greeted by a stranger with a weird accent.

The People Who Barely Survive

The Country Saga follows a few different people. This series includes Fire Country, Ice Country, and Water & Storm Country. With each of these civilizations, the people took refuge from the meteorite in caves and mountains, however, they do not give as many details as how life resumed after the meteorite as the Dwellers Saga does.

In Fire Country, we follow Siena, a 15 year old girl who has been raised in a tribe with strict laws regarding child birth. Because the average age of death for the people of Fire Country due to the harsh environment, girls are married off at the age of 16 to a man of random draw and must give birth every 3 years. Each man will take a new wife every year until he has 3 wives, making for a full family of 13. But this is not the life Siena wants; she wants to marry her lifelong friend, Circ.

(Souce: Giphy)
The villain in Fire Country, or at least the known villain, is Siena's father, Roan, who lies, steals, cheats, and beats. He is not a father, he is a sperm donor. His actions cause Siena to run off and join the Wild Ones. Girls are told to fear the Wild Ones because they kidnap girls before they can be sold off into slavery given to a man. However, this is not the truth; they are a safe haven for girls who know the tribes way of life is not for them, and Siena learns that her sister Skye joined them when she turned 16. You also have the Marked Ones, a group of men heavily tattooed, but not much is known about them.

In Ice Country, we follow Dazz and his friend Buff, who have gotten themselves into a pretty bad gambling situation, owning a chunk of money to some bookies. But when Dazz's sister goes missing, he knows that King Goff is behind it somehow. Dazz and Buff conceive a plan that puts them inside the castle...well, to be specific, the prison. Dazz's brother is supposed to help them escape and rescue their sister, but their plan doesn't go as planned.

(Source: Giphy)
While they are imprisoned, they meet Siena, Skye, Circ, and a few other characters from Fire Country where they learn how intertwined their communities are, and it's not in a good way. Together, they all come up with a plan to escape, rescue Dazz's sister, and other kidnapped children, kill King Goff, and find out why Fire and Ice Countries are doing business with each other, and what they could be doing that involves the people of Water & Storm Country.

Water & Storm Country returns to the two person POV. First is Huck Jones, son of the admiral of the Soaker fleet. In a nutshell, he hates/fears his father, he thinks he killed his mother, and he's fallen in love with a lowly bilge rat, Jade. Sadie is a Rider in the Stormer army and she wants nothing more than to avenge the death of her brother at the hands of the Soakers. Sadie admires her mother, tolerates her father, and has no interest in a love interest. When Siena, Dazz, and Co. show up outside the Stormers walls, all four countries collide, secrets are revealed, and families are reunited.

When Two Worlds Meet

In the Earth Dwellers, all of our characters combine to fight the ultimate boss, President Borg Lecter, who has plagued each group of people. Each chapter is told from a different characters POV as they end up separating and converging multiple times. Adele infiltrates the Glass City to try to find a way to Lecter from the inside; Tristan returns below to unite the realms and hopefully bring them to the surface to fight; Dazz returns to Ice Country to convince them to fight against the Glass City; Siena needs to convince the newly formed Tri-Tribes to do the same; and Huck and Sadie show up at the last minute with their respective armies, resulting in the Glass City being surrounded from all sides.

(Source: Giphy)
As a whole, I loved this series. The Country Saga took me a bit longer as it continued to change POV, but David Estes did a brilliant job at combining the worlds. Some notes:

  • Do NOT get attached to anyone. Someone you love dies in every single book. In Earth Dwellers, be prepared to curl up in a ball and die.
  • There are boo-koos of strong female leads in these books!
  • I love the David Estes really builds the worlds for you, and he really submerges you in it; you learn their slang, you relate to their customs, you feel what they feel.
  • I have never thought about never seeing the sun or stars before, but when Adele sees real stars for the first time, it brings tears to your eyes.
  • Don't trust anyone. There are back stabbers everywhere.
  • Two of my most favorite characters are Roc and Buff. Both are witty, lighthearted, never take anything seriously, and their banter (Roc with Tristan and Buff with Dazz) make you want them to be your friends.
  • By Earth Dwellers, you will be so emotionally spent, you won't know how much more you can take, and you think there is clearly nothing more that can be written to break your heart anymore, and then David does the unthinkable.
Rating: 9/10
Series: The Dwellers Sage; The Country Saga
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult


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