When I think of Dystopian novels I immediately pair the genre with young adult fiction. I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, last week the New York times made the same association. Of course if you examine the history of the genre, there are plenty of books written for and about adults: Brave New World, 1984, The Road, etc. However, with a few exceptions, in the last ten years the genre seems to have been claimed by teenaged characters and readers. While the summaries of Archetype, by M.D. Waters call the book a futuristic suspense novel, it feels like it belongs firmly in the Dystopian category. It is nice to have an author write a female-centric, Dystopian novel with adult characters and adult problems. Furthermore, this was a fun, quick read that kept me turning the page until I’d finished the novel in just two sittings (both in the same day). In Archetype, the main character Emma wakes up in a hospital with no memories. She is told she is married to Declan, who describes their loving past together, but at night she has dreams of another life, in another city, with another man. She suppresses these dreams and begins to fall in love with Declan, letting him shape her entire world view of the society they inhabit. But when she see’s Noah, the man from her dreams, she isn’t sure what to believe in: the reality she lives while she’s awake or the life she experiences when she’s asleep.
What makes the novel Dystopian is the setting, which isn’t exactly as Declan describes it to Emma. An unknown biological force has made women scarce, and fertile women a very rare commodity. I don’t want to give too much away, but let me just give you a few key words: teenage female education camps, resistance movement, genetic modification, and scientific experimentation. If you think this is beginning to sound like one of Margaret Atwood’s books, you are right. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much?
You might think from the description that this story sounds a little cookie cutter or clear cut, but it isn’t. I found myself switching allegiance between Declan and Noah several times while reading. The writing of this book reads like a suspense novel. It is not literary, but it is clear, to the point, and fast-paced. It wasn’t my favorite book of all time, but it was a great way to spend a snow day.
***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but all the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.