CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 11. . . .November 13, 2015
Fort Collins, CO: Entangled Teen (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2015.
342 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.50 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-662266-522-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-662266-527-3 (ebook).
Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Ronald Hore.
There was a massive power shortage in Tower province last night—one that allowed a convict to escape from Olympus Jail. Normally a jailbreak would be bad enough, but this wasn’t just any convict. This was Darian One Sterling.
A murderer. And my childhood friend.
The newscaster scowls as Darian’s picture flashes in an emergency announcement.
“Desiree,” Dad says. He opens and closes his mouth, then shakes his head. I can tell my parents are worried I’ll pity Darian because of our childhood friendship. But I don’t. Going against The Protectorate wasn’t just a violation. It was plain dumb. The Protectorate provides the citizens of Tower with everything we could need.
Darian’s infraction, breaking into a head Protectorate office and stealing government files, is a serious crime. It would have led to at least five years in jail. But when his parent attempted to turn him in, Darian murdered them in cold blood. That’s a crime punishable with life in the Terrorscape, where you experience the worst nightmares imaginable.
“He used to be such a good boy,” Mom mumbles.
Awakening is a novel following in the current trend of young adult dystopia. Desiree, the heroine, is a 16-year-old teenage girl who lives in a world where The Protectorate guarantees, within a 99% accuracy rate, that everyone will feel valuable. The remaining one percent represents trouble. The Protectorate arose after the Manic Age. Now everyone falls into an eight hour nightmare-free Dreamscape of refreshing sleep. In the district where Desiree lives, all the homes are steel and equipped with air-purifying system to reduce viruses and ailments.
Everyone learns their vocation at age five. By age 15, Desiree Six Haven entered nursing school. The number of a person’s middle name represents the day of the week s/he was born. To reduce overpopulation, that date is linked to when a person will die. Ones, born on Sunday, die at age 25. For every number past one, a person can live another five years. Consequently, Desiree is scheduled to die at age 50 because she was born on the sixth day. The Protectorate also chooses a person’s binding mate, and divorce is illegal.
Of course, Desiree discovers there are problems with the Protectorate’s paradise. She is forced along with everyone else to watch their neighbours’ horrifying punishment on TV while they suffer in the Terrorscape. This is a machine used to punish anyone who is noncompliant. Desiree learns she has been matched to a boy who bullied her in school. Darian, the convict on the run, was the boy who kept her safe. Darian enters her bedroom one night and changes her life. He claims he was framed for the murder of his parents. He wants her help. By the end of the story and after several adventures and harrowing escapes, they have reached a sort of a safe place.
Awakening will appeal to fans of the genre. The story is told from the young woman’s point of view. The world of the setting is thought out with some interesting twists. There are heavy-handed villains, teenage girls and heroic boys, romance, and, I suspect, room for a series or at least a trilogy before everything settles down.
Ronald Hore, involved with writers’ groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy in Winnipeg, MB.
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