CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 38. . . . June 1, 2018
Oculum is a middle grade novel set in a future Earth that has been severely damaged by plague and environmental collapse. The story is told through the point of view of three characters. Our main character is Miranda1, a 13-year-old girl living inside an enclosed environment monitored by robots. She has no idea there is an outside world. Mannfred is a boy living on the outside and struggling to survive in a world that seems to be dying all around him. The people there are poor and simply trying to exist among the ruins of our previous civilization. Mothers and grandmothers form an important part of Mannfred’s world. The third main character is William1, the first boy to find his way out of Oculum. He is the same age as Miranda1, and the pair are the eldest of the children in this closed environment.
The Oculum is the vent at the top of the closed environment in which a thousand children have been born and raised by robotic mothers. They are kept safe within the rules by other robots known as Sentries. Oculum is also the name of the entire sealed complex. A robot called Regulus is in charge. The story revolves around the growing knowledge by Miranda1 and William1 that there is a world outside of the place where they were nurtured and taught. Balancing their narrative is the journey of Mannfred and his family to reach the ruined city where the Oculum is located. Both stories revolve around the conflicts the children face until they finally meet at the book’s conclusion.
Oculum’s chapters are headed by the name of the child whose adventure is being told. Well-written and an imaginative description of a future world struggling to survive, Oculum ends on a positive note, and the book should appeal to both boys and girls in search of adventure.
Ronald Hore, involved with writers groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy and science fiction in Winnipeg, MB.