by M.R. Carey
Reviewed by SA
This book may be impossible to review without giving away too much or spoiling it, but I am going to try, because this is one that I really enjoyed, and want you to read it to, experiencing it spoiler free, like I did. I am warning you that I may be deliberately vague in areas to ensure I don’t ruin it!
I only had a Goodreads summary to go by when i picked this book up, but it was enough to make me read it. Let me tell you, it was nothing like I expected just going by its looks, but it was so much more. It was one of those books that was so mesmerizing, so compelling, great by its unpredictability.
“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.” – Goodreads Summary
Doesn’t tell you much, does it?
Melanie is our main character, a young girl of undetermined age (around ten?) who lives her life in routine, going to school, sitting in her room, going to school, sitting in her room – every day, the same thing, over and over again, for as long as she can remember. She loves school, loves to learn about the world that she has never seen, and above all, loves her teacher, Miss Justineau.
Both of their lives are going to be thrown upside down. Over, and over again.
The story centers around four main characters – Melanie, this ‘gifted’ girl; Miss Justineau, her teacher; Sergeant Parks; and Dr. Caldwell. Each has different intentions at heart, and as their lives are thrown together, they are tested in ways they could never have expected.
At the first twist of the novel, my initial thought was ‘oh no, it’s THAT kind of novel!’ but that thought was quickly dismissed for ‘wait… this is INCREDIBLE’. I had no problem with the new genre, as it defied every trope I knew. (Yes, vague, but I’m trying to allow you to enjoy this novel like I did.)
I love science, and one thing I hate is when novels use ‘science’ to explain what really fails to stand up on its own. Science fiction is at its best when it doesn’t over explain. Carey has somehow managed to write a novel that takes an old trope and makes it new, WHILE using science to support the concept. I absolutely loved it.
This novel combines so many genres, plays on so many ideas, while remaining simple at its core. It’s both an amazing thriller, a gripping horror, and a thoughtful science fiction. I highly recommend it to loves of apocalyptic novels (though it isn’t one, technically, but hey, deliberately vague here). However, I warning for those who hate gore, violence, and language. There is a bit of everything.