This was an awesome read for me. Joel Ohman is some kind of a genius if you ask me. I have read a lot of dystopia books but most of them bored me to death. Not this one though. The action scenes have vivid imagery which is helpful for someone like me who lacks imagination. The way he creates the atmosphere of a cruel totalitarian regime and then slowly builds up both his human characters and the weird animal kingdom is certainly commendable for me. There are instances of brilliant prose in the ebook. An excellent descriptive passage is below:
“In an instant, Charley launched himself at the guards, eyes glazing over, an answering cry rising unbidden from his lips. His limbs pistoning as if controlled by an unseen puppet master; marionetting in time to the inner drum beat of angry energy. There was no plan, no strategy, no thinking ahead to plot out actions and counteractions. There was only the ever-present NOW.”
Charley, Sandy as well as most other characters are well sketched. I however found that the character of Orson was somewhat of a caricature. Sure he embodied the qualities of many of the real-world autocratic rulers of history yet he looked and behaved less like a human and more like a machine most of the time. The animals are frightening yet in their description the author displays a subtle sense of humor. The bion is my favorite; if not for its ferocity, I would have domesticated that animal. I really fell in love with it and felt rather depressed when it was killed.
The novel comes with a social message about how we are measured up not for what we are but what we can bring to the table. It reminded me a lot of the terrible world of speed dating where looks and wealth are used to gauge the attractiveness of a person rather than his personality, the world of education where a child’s worth is measured by how he fares in this or that exam, or the world of jobs which is full of cut-throat competition: you never know when your only livelihood is gonna get snatched away and you are gonna die just because a better performer appeared around. This ebook may have been set in future but one that is not an impossible future; if our current society doesn’t change for the better then it is only a matter of time before we will find ourselves either inside the gates of Meritropolis or out of it – about to be ‘zeroed’. There is however, hope as long as good guys like Charley are around to make the world as better place for us.