CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 19. . . .January 19, 2016
Eric Walters’ Regenesis directly follows the startling ending of End of Days, chronicling the aftermath of the asteroid’s impact on earth and the struggles of surviving in outer space. It is these struggles, which span from the mechanical to the emotional and psychological, that truly test Billy Phillips as both a protagonist and a leader for his people. End of Days introduced readers to Billy’s unfortunate background, his tenacity, his cunning, and his willingness to survive, but it is only in Regenesis that readers are able to understand and empathize with the difficult role Billy was given. How can a child understand the difficulty of leadership? What does it mean to truly be a leader? Walters seeks to answer each one of these questions in Regenesis and does so by introducing challenges into the plot that successfully drive readers through the story.
Regenesis follows a linear plot line and uses a third person perspective narration style. Each chapter is dated, which marks the steady progression of the characters’ goal of survival. As with End of Days, a sense of urgency is established throughout the plot with the use of this timeline. The book begins with one hundred and one survivors (99 per cent children) making their way to an orbital space station designated as their new home. The children understand they need to survive in space for at least a decade. They also understand the likelihood of their home surviving fully intact would be difficult, if not impossible. The station is not secure. It is subject to a wide scope of dangers and, at one point, faces the same crisis Earth was subjected to in End of Days. Their time in space is full of anxiety for the reader, but Billy, with his keen judgment and strength, offers a sense of reassurance and hope.
Throughout the early chapters of the book, the one hundred children are still very much an abstract concept. There is little personality or differentiation given to them in order to establish a point of relation with the reader. Thus, in the beginning, Billy and Professor Sheppard, originally the only adult to escape earth with them, have the crucial role of bringing the reader in tune with the story in a more emotional sense.
After the asteroid hits earth, most of the human population perishes within the first few days, but this tragedy is understood with difficulty by the two main characters. Their attempts to understand the very remote destruction of Earth continually bring up the issue of sympathetic detachment. Sheppard and Billy ask the question: what do two billion, four billion, eight billion lives look like? One death is a tragedy and a million a statistic. Such questions parallel similar issues faced in our modern society when it comes to leveraging support for foreign aide. Billy and Sheppard’s struggles reflect a very real human reaction to remote tragedy.
As the story progresses, readers are introduced to more and more of the children on the station. They are given names, personalities, and challenges of their own. The main themes of the novel revolve around responsibility, trust and truth. Yet, the relationships that are highlighted do not focus on romance. Rather, the process of establishing trust between strangers is explored. Three unexpected characters are introduced in the seventh chapter, adding another layer of complication for the survivors. Three new adults, two of whom were trained bodyguards and killers, test Billy’s ability to handle hostile negotiations and peacekeeping strategies. One of the adults in particular, Ivan, whose cold personality and reluctance to establish any sort of amicable relation, is first recognized as a potential antagonist for Billy. The progress of their relationship, however, changes through mutual understanding and a shared determination to protect and safeguard the lives of the children on the station.
The concept of truth, and how much to divulge, is another constant concern. Billy, in the role of leader, understands leadership as supported by either respect or fear. Truth is a vital component of respect, but there is a line he attempts to establish concerning how much truth to share and when to share it. This line shifts depending on the events in the novel, but as Billy is constantly asking himself this question, he extends this dilemma to the reader.The uncertainty of the protagonist offers a great opportunity for the reader to either agree or disagree with Billy’s decisions.
Overall, the themes discussed in this book revolve around determining the characteristics of leadership. Regenesis is a well-paced novel with moments of intense drama that help keep the reader invested throughout the entire plot. Billy is both likeable and relatable. His lack of knowledge, compared to the highly educated children he protects, allows an opportunity for the reader to simultaneously learn alongside Billy as he faces and overcomes each challenge. I found it difficult to put this book down, and I’m positive YA readers will feel the same.
Stephanie Buosi is a speculative fiction writer and anthology editor for Erebus Press.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.