Posting a good public review is not always such an easy thing to do. I say this is a writer who has written countless mini-essays and reviews over the years. There is a sweet spot one must hit when trying to thread the needle between spoiler free but not too vague summary, and giving sufficient feedback without babbling in self-indulgent rambling.
Anyway, I think this mini-customer review posted at Goodreads really sums up why "Caitlin Star and the Rise of the Barbarians" is an exciting must read for fans of dystopian science fiction.
Impressive, fast-paced, visceral, contemporary post-apocalyptic science fiction action adventure with a great title character and strong visual writing.
Many things set this book (and its prequels, "Caitlin Star" and "Caitlin Star and the Guardian of Forever") apart from the monstrous avalanche of young adult/new adult dystopian fiction out there. Unlike most of the YA dystopian female leads, Caitlin is not a reluctant action hero. Protecting others, seeking justice, and taking on the villains (well-fleshed out, worthy adversaries in all three books), is something she seems born too. As a matter of fact, at times she relishes it. There is a primal, savage beauty seeing Caitlin in action. She is fearsome, a character whose charisma just oozes off the page amid the author's streaming pulpy prose.
There is also a unique multi-layered approach in the the book's thematic subtext that works on a cultural, political, sociological, and even religious level. The addition of a priest to Caitlin's supporting cast here is a stroke of genius. The non-human characters, especially Toby (a chimpanzee) and Krell (a neanderthal-like hominid) are very well developed. Returning from the previous books is Caitlin's hacker friend Lori as well as few special surprises best not spoiled here.
The science in this book is also well done, and I say this as an undergraduate student of Anthropology and Archaeology. The imagined pre-history is entirely possible. Only the time-travel device comes across as science fiction-y (for lack of a better word). But even that is within the outer realm of possible quantum mechanics.
But make no mistake, "Caitlin Star and the Rise of the Barbarians" is not an academic study. It is an exhilarating, page-turning, ultra-intense action adventure with unforgettable scenes, magical moments, and an an iconic lead character named "Caitlin Star".