This is a great season for adult science fiction with teen appeal. Some years we barely see any. This year we have 3 outstanding titles already (Red Rising, Burn, and now Archetype) with three more reviews coming soon.
I started Archetype thinking I was reading it just for fun. I didn’t “assign it” to myself for this blog, rather, it was getting enough raves from the right places to make me curious, and I found some time (love those January & February long weekends!) to give it a try.
I love a book where I don’t know what’s going on at the beginning, that makes me figure it out along the way. I want the world to be just familiar enough that I don’t have to work too hard. I want just enough clues to keep me connected to the plot, but I also want surprises. It’s hard to find books with the perfect balance, but Archetype had it from the first pages. It also had a great balance of action and concept. It both got my adrenaline going and made me think.
The other thing I love about Archetype is that it is a true thriller. The pacing never flags and it keeps the revelations coming. There were a few times that I was frustrated with the narrator, thinking “come on, isn’t it obvious?!” More often than not the surprises were on me.
It didn’t take long to realize this was going to work for teen readers, too. The pacing, Emma’s voice, the nature of her struggles, and the accessibility of the world and the writing would have been enough. But we also meet Emma in her early teen years partway through the novel, and understanding what girls have to contend with in this world ups the stakes somehow.
This is M.D. Waters’ debut novel, and it’s a great choice for teens who have read The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies. Here they’ll find romance (some of it rather steamy), a kick-ass, smart heroine, and issues of infertility and a woman’s right to control her own body. Indeed, in this future world women have little choice about anything, and the few who are fertile have even less choice, though they are more prized.
* WATERS, M. D. Archetype. 384p. Dutton. Feb. 2014. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9780525954231.
Adult/High School–Emma wakes up in the hospital with no memories. Fortunately, her devoted husband, Declan, is by her side, helping her relearn everything, from the words for colors to the way they met. But the more she recovers, the less she believes anything he, or her doctor, tell her. If she was in such a terrible accident, where are her scars? She has persistent nightmares and a voice in her head that urges her to hide her thoughts from them. One of her nightmares is of floating in a tank, unable to speak or move, watching a man sitting nearby, weeping. Why won’t he save her? One is of going into battle next to Foster, her second in command. In another she arrives at a training center for girls and learns the ropes from a girl named Toni who is later shot for trying to leave. And to her shame, another takes place on the beach with a man she loves–but it isn’t Declan. Waters expertly lays out the puzzle pieces, keeping the answers just out of reach. Archetype has elements of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (Knopf, 2005), but the author has created a future world, and a dynamic heroine, all her own. This is the perfect fast-paced, dystopian thriller for teens ready to move into more complex fare, and the epilogue will launch them right into waiting anxiously for the sequel, Prototype, due in July.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City