Tag Archives: S L Harpel

Book Review: Contained by S. L. Harpel

Contained is S. L. Harpel’s debut novel. It is a young adult, science-fiction tale built around a young girl, Ella, who finds herself torn between two worlds. Ella was born in the Outskirts, the barren wasteland that covers most of the planet after man has destroyed it with biological weapons. While still a small child, she is chosen by a wealthy couple and taken into one of the Communities. There are nine Communities and each is dome-protected and full of life and abundance, but very few humans have the chance to live in one.

Ella faces a difficult choice because she wants to be loyal to her sister, Beaunca, who stayed behind in the Outskirts. However, there are many, many good things to life in the Community, from good food to advanced medical care, and Ella starts to be able to see the world from two points of view.

Contained is told from Ella’s first-person point of view. The writing style allows you to feel what Ella feels and do some self-examination as you decide which choices you might make in a similar situation. The book is reminiscent of the time when social standing and civil liberties were determined on where you were born. Had she not been chosen, Ella would not have the options now before her. She must choose to support the Community, find a way to elevate the lower classes, or find a positive middle-ground between the two.

The dystopian nature of the book is a possible future that is all too likely. Seeing a glimpse of how the world could evolve if we continue to destroy the planet was both fascinating and chilling.

What I Liked

Contained has a fast pace with rich characters. Since it is told from the first-person perspective, you feel what Ella feels as she faces each choice and decision. Ella faces a struggle with not only the world she has been forced to live in but a secret that she is forced to keep hidden inside. The story does a good job of not getting bogged down in unnecessary details and tells you what you need to know when you need to know it.

The character development was also well done. Each main character is a solid and fully fleshed out individual. Well not too much time is spent describing each character, you are given enough to see the whole person and their personality.

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Where I Struggled

The only thing I had a hard time with in Contained was the abundance of characters. So many characters were described and named that I had a hard time keeping them all straight. At times, I was a little confused as to whether I really needed to know about a character or not. The plethora of characters introduced is the only reason I did not give this book a five-star review. That said, for the most part, the story sticks to the important characters and you learn who they are and what’s important about them. This minor negative did not detract from the excellent storytelling.

The Review

To me, Contained was a quick read that I had a hard time putting down. I was drawn in from the first few lines and am looking forward to reading Book Two. There were a few minor imperfections in the book, but none so much as to interfere with your reading enjoyment. The only reason I am not giving this book a five-star review is that I got confused more than a few times due to the sheer number of characters that are introduced and developed.

In conclusion, if you like dystopian science fiction and/or young adult literature, you will enjoy Contained. The book builds believable worlds that draw you in, and you find yourself invested as to which world or social group will or should prosper. There is definitely plenty of substance for this series to go on, possible through many more books. I highly recommend this book.

Final rating: 4.9/5.0 Stars


Learn more about S. L. Harpel is her author interview.

Contained by S. L. Harpel Book Review | #BookReview #IndieAuthor #SciFi #sciencefiction

Author Interview: S. L. Harpel, Author of Contained

Recently, I had the chance to spend a few minutes conducting and author interview with S. L. Harpel. S. L. recently released her novel, Contained, which is a dystopian, young adult tale about a girl name Ella that is struggling to find her place between two societies. You can read the review of Contained by clicking this line.


S. L. Harpel, Author

About the Author

Wolfe: Hello, and welcome to WolfeButler.com. 

S. L. Harpel: Thank you for allowing me be a part of your amazing website.

Wolfe: Let’s start by learning a little about you. Please tell us a little about yourself and where you are from.

S. L. Harpel: I was born and raised in Northern California, and I defiantly hold that area near and dear to my heart. I went away to College in Idaho where I met my husband. From there we joined the U.S. Navy, and the world has really been our home for the past ten years.

Wolfe: When did you start writing? How did you decide to become an author?

S. L. Harpel: I have wanted to be an author since I was about seven years old. My best friend and I sat down to write the greatest fiction novel in the world one summer, and I have had a passion for writing ever since.

Wolfe: That’s awesome. How far did you get?

S. L. Harpel: Honestly, I would say we got about halfway through and then I moved.

Wolfe: That’s too bad. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you write as it comes, or do you prefer to outline the book first?

S. L. Harpel: I do a lot of outlining and reorganizing and character plotting…sometimes I think its a little bit of an avoidance tactic, but for the most part it is all a part of my writing process. Once I have the main outline to my novel, I do like to just write as it comes, and sometimes that means big twists and turns or new characters that I didn’t see coming.

Book Review: Tokyo Story by Tereza Mackova

About the Book

Wolfe: Now let’s switch over to your intriguing book, Contained. How did you come up with the story idea?

S. L. Harpel: I am a big fan of dystopian and apocalyptic type novels to begin with. The idea actually came to me as I was researching and writing Regency Romance. I found all the social rules, classes, etc. kind of comical and just thought, “What would happen if we brought that back and judged everyone based on the society they were born into?”

Wolfe: That’s a scary thought. Your main character, Ella, is a little complicated. Does she mirror anyone in real life?

S. L. Harpel: I feel like for a character to be good, you have to draw from several different inspirations whether they are in real life or inspiration from other books/media. My biggest focus for Ella is that I wanted her to be relatable for my target audience which is Young Adult readers. She struggles with several different forces being thrown into her life all at once and mixing with her own personality. I feel like so often characters will be portrayed on a single line of thought or emotion but that isn’t real life. You have to juggle several different connections and societies all at once and figure out which one fits you best or maybe even none of them.

Wolfe: That is very true. While writing Contained, what were your biggest challenges?

S. L. Harpel: I would have to say my biggest challenge is not allowing myself to write too much! I have these characters in my head as real living people, and I don’t want to leave anything out for any of them. Even the simplest side character seems just as important to me, and I feel like they want their story to be heard too. Remembering to keep my focus on Ella, because she is the one telling us her life story, has been the biggest struggle for me.

Wolfe: What are the plans for Book Two in the series?

S. L. Harpel: Book Two should be ready for Pre-Order Sept 2018. Ella is going to find herself traveling deeper down the rabbit hole that makes up her world and may even finally find the one person she has been looking for all along but in the worst possible place!

How To Get To Know Your Novel Characters

Writer Advice

Wolfe: What do you like most about writing?

S. L. Harpel: Getting down the voices in my head. 😉

Wolfe: (Laughing) That I understand far too well. Tell us, what advice would you give to new writers?

S. L. Harpel: Write all day every day. Don’t be afraid to use someone as your inspiration, hurt someone’s feelings, or write what has already been done. You will do all of that, but in your own way, and that is what will make it amazing!

Wolfe: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?

S. L. Harpel: I would say the best writing advice was from Anne Lamott: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it.”

Wolfe: What are your three favorite books of all time?

S. L. Harpel: Three is a hard number…So I guess I will say the three authors that I have read all their books over and over again! Diana Gabaldon, Margaret Atwood, and for YA Fiction, I have really been falling in love with Bella Forrest lately, though I don’t think I could ever hammer down that genre to one favorite author.

Wolfe: If you could go on a six-month writer’s retreat anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

S. L. Harpel: Honestly, I would say all of the UK! I love, LOVE the classic romances such as Jane Austen, The Bronte sisters, etc. I would want to visit all their landmarks. Then I would go up to Scotland to see all the Outlander spots, because I really am a nerdy Obsess-ssanach. I love mythology and folklore, so I would go all over Scotland and Ireland just soaking up every castle, fairy hill, and standing stone that I could manage

Book Review: Contained by S. L. Harpel

Rapid Fire

Wolfe: You sound just like my wife. Now, let’s do a rapid fire round. Try to answer these questions as fast as you can. What is the last movie you watched?

S. L. Harpel: I never go to the movie theater, but I just went to see The Darkest Mind.

Wolfe: What’s your favorite music when writing?

S. L. Harpel: I love listening to classical stations, or my recent favorite has been shuffling through Piano Guys songs.

Wolfe: What are three things you can’t live without?

S. L. Harpel: My planner notebook, my computer, and the three little rugrats and one large man child that I call my own.

Wolfe: What’s the last book you read and/or what are you reading right now?

S. L. Harpel: I am in the middle of reading the Gender Games series, and before that, I read A Town Called Wonderful by Michael Lacey.

Wolfe: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

Connect with S. L. on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/samantha_harpel/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SLHarpel/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/saharpel/

Contained Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Author Interview S L Harpel #author #interview