Recompense Trilogy by Michelle Isenhoff

Michelle Isenhoff’s  has managed to captivate me in her fresh and diverse YA fantasy/dystopian series, the Recompense Trilogy, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing.  It is an ambitious undertaking for Isenhoff, with all three novels, Recompense, Betrayal and Retribution, published since January 2018.  Readers can binge read and pick up the next volume when they finish each novel!

Isenhoff ‘s trilogy is a heart-pounding and thrilling read with gorgeous writing, mesmerizing world building and gripping story line that culminates in a series that is absolutely addictive. She masterfully builds a world that is believable, haunting and creates a realistic backdrop for her multi-layered and authentic characters in Jaclyn (Jack), Will, Ethan, Aunt Opal, Willoughby and Jewell. They are flawed, powerful, vulnerable and will draw you deeply into their high-stakes story. The heroine, Jack, is such a likable character, who repeatedly demonstrates strength of body, mind, and spirit throughout the series. You’ll be cheering for her from the very first page. The thing I liked about the large cast of characters is that you never know who you can trust and when you can trust them. They keep you on your toes and utterly glued to the pages. And there is a sweet love story.

Readers will enjoy sinking into the thoughtfully constructed details of Isenhoff’s ravaged future Earth, as well as a number of terrifying action sequences that build to a game-changing twist. The plot is riveting, action-packed and complex. Isenhoff has a sweeping imagination and you never know what to expect next. Each chapter ends with a cliff-hangar which keeps you reading because you want to know the outcome. I lost a couple of nights of sleep because I couldn’t put her engaging novel down.

Instead of reviewing each book separately, I’ve given you my impression of the complete trilogy. I’ve also decided to share the synopsis of each book below, so readers can grasp the depth of this brilliant trilogy.

Synopsis: Born into Capernica’s lowest social tier and not permitted to leave Settlement 56, Jaclyn (Jack) Holloway refuses to pour out her years in the local fish cannery. She gambles on the one chance available to her to advance–the high school Exit Exam. In a country that still keenly remembers the horrors of the Provocation, the period of unexplained disappearances that led to revolution, the smartest and strongest are richly rewarded in exchange for military service. Jack is adamant that her best friend, Will Ransom, join her in striving for induction.

But if Jack fails to pass the stringent physical standards and Will succeeds, she will not be allowed to see him again until his tour of duty is completed–in twenty years.

Meanwhile, the government has been keeping a tight lid on a new string of abductions. Jack’s Exam score places her in a position to aid Axis, an underground organization charged with investigating events that threaten national security. The evidence leads her back forty-seven years, to a series of high-profile cover-ups linked to the Provocation. Blowing the whistle could place her in danger, but holding her silence means history will likely repeat. And Capernica could never survive a second Provocation.

Synopsis: Jack and her teammates at Axis have succeeded in stopping the widespread abduction of Capernica’s teenage girls and neutralized the operatives living among them. Now they turn their attention to uniting the nation against the Bruelim. It’s time to take the fight through the portal and make sure, once and for all, that the Provocation never repeats.

Even as they prepare, disgruntled Lowers hang on the brink of revolution. Their rebellion has the potential to split Capernica along its caste lines just when the nation should be pulling together against a common enemy. But how can Axis convey the importance of cooperation when they’re unable to tell the people exactly what dangers they’re facing? Forty-seven years ago, Governor Macron expressly forbid any investigation into the Bruelim and ordered the evidence from the Provocation destroyed. No one’s certain what she’ll do when she learns the files have been reopened.

Meanwhile, Jack remains crazy hopeful that upcoming Military maneuvers might once again throw her into contact with her best friend Will, while Ethan, her capable Axis partner, strongly hopes they do not. Neither she nor Ethan are prepared for the testing their partnership is about to undergo. Or the revelation of their most immediate threat.

Synopsis: Jack was the revolution’s contingency plan. With the assault on the Macron City Military Base shattered, she was to assassinate Governor Andromeda Macron and revert Capernica back to Capernican control. But she failed, the revolution lies in ashes, and the one person she loves more than anyone in the world has betrayed her.

Alone in Brunay, Jack becomes an anonymous cog in the vast Bruelim slave economy, where callous wardens aren’t the only threat to her safety. The labor compound she’s been assigned to has an inmate hierarchy dominated by descendants of the Provocation’s original victims, and they don’t welcome newcomers. But Jack also finds friendship among the displaced laborers, and like her grandmother, Ruby, she burns with the desire to see them all home.

More importantly, Jack discovers the key to freeing Capernica from Bruel aggression forever. But even if she managed an escape, how could she leave Will in Brunay, trapped in the body of a Berkam?

Isenhoff has made Recompense available free for download on Amazon kindle. I ordered the paperbacks. This new original series will please fans of Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner. Isenhoff has completed a prequel to the trilogy, Provocation, which will be released soon. Visit Michelle Isenhoff at her website to view all her published work.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

17 thoughts on “Recompense Trilogy by Michelle Isenhoff

  1. Wow! Patricia, I don’t know what has impressed me more – your wonderful review or the fact that all three books have been published since January. I’m more into picture books than middle grade or YA and not really into dystopian futures, but you’ve made this trilogy sound intriguing. I guess all three may have been published this year, but I assume not written. It would be interesting to know over how much time Michelle has worked on them. I know some writers who have been working on their series for ten or more years and won’t published the first until all are done. What a mighty effort.


    • Michelle Isenhoff is a prolific author. She has an amazing talent with a beautiful gift for storytelling. I’ve been enamored with her MG and YA historical fiction books for many years. Her books are always researched and plotted in advance. She has an interesting writing style. And she has been working on the series for a while. I read/review very little dystopian, but have my favorites authors. I wanted to read Michelle’s new series because I had a feeling it would be good. Recompense took me on a journey and I am still thinking about the characters. I can’t wait until Provocation comes out. You may enjoy her Ella Wood series, about a head strong women who defies the norms, participates in freeing slaves from her father’s plantation during the Civil War and goes to an art school. So much true history in this series, which really shows her literary style. And her books are clean.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great sounding series. I have a few readers to recommend this to. Unfortunately, my MG stack is up to 18 books and that will take me well into the summer. Best of luck to Michelle on this series.


    • Greg, I hope you have a chance to read Michelle’s first book at some point. I know the piles. You know she is a consummate storyteller. But, I was really thrilled with how good this series was.


    • There are a lot of social justice issues in this book. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but have my favorites. So I was thrilled to be drawn into her world-building in the Recompense Series. I have admired Isenhoff’s MG and YA historical fiction for years.


  3. Michelle Isenhoff is an excellent writer and I’m not surprised this series got such a great review from you. Her dedication to her craft is impressive. These books could very well become movies.


    • I don’t spend a lot of time reading fantasy, but I love the author’s historical fiction and decided to read her latest books. I was surprised I’d be drawn in so completely. Thank you for sharing with your friends.


  4. Pingback: Abduction by Michelle Isenhoff (Recompense Book 4) | Children's Books Heal

  5. Reading your review and synopsis now, I’m even more excited to read this! I love well-written dystopian novels so much, especially if I can relate them back to present day life. AND a dystopian series with a strong, like-able female lead? Sign me up!


    • Jack is a very strong female lead. I do hope you read the first book — I think you’ll get hooked quickly. There is a fourth book, Michelle wrote, that gives the entire series perspective. By the way, Isenhoff has updated the covers on the books, so the ones I shared are the first covers. The covers are more focused on the characters. If you read the first book, I want to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

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