In Thomas Mullen’s new thought-provoking novel of speculative fiction the government is trying to preserve a Perfect Present by going back in time to make sure the disasters of the past are not altered. But is the present really so perfect?
The publisher description calls it “A fast-paced literary thriller that recalls dystopian classics such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.” The author himself says it involves “post-9/11 paranoia about government surveillance and ubiquitous threats.” There’s a great Q&A on the author’s website.
Mullen’s debut was an equally genre-mixing novel, a sort of dystopian historical fiction. I read The Last Town on Earth (Random House, 2006) when it came out, and although I don’t see a lot of teen appeal there, I highly recommend it to adult readers of the genre.
Adult/High School–This thrilling novel examines trust and truth through the lens of time travel. In the not-too-distant future, the government controls time-travel technology. Instead of using it to correct past wrongs, they use it to make sure that all of history’s worst events–genocide, war, terrorist attacks–happen without disruption. These events lead to the Great Conflagration, after which society reaches the Perfect Present, a time when hate, violence, and suffering have seemingly been eradicated. As a Protector with the Department of Historical Integrity, Zed is responsible for making sure history goes unchanged, ensuring realization of this Perfect Present. He works to counter the efforts of a revolutionary group within the government who sees things differently. The hags–historical agitators–discover things that make them question who the Perfect Present truly benefits. They refuse to stand by and let millions of people suffer and die to protect these questionable interests, and instead try to reroute history’s path. Instead of a simple hags vs. protectors plot, Mullen creates a complex, compelling story where right and wrong are for readers to decide. Issues are explored through Zed’s journey, as well as those of two “contemps” he gets involved with during his mission. Teens are often concerned with trying to bring clarity to gray areas in their own lives; The Revisionists gives them a complex and engaging way to observe others wrestling with finding the truth.–Carla Riemer, Berkeley High School, CA