Well this was an interesting one.
Remake by Ilima Todd is a young adult fantasy dystopian book. Because all books need labels these days.
To break that down, young adult means soppy romance in there, fantasy means unreal, and dystopian means 1984 or Brave New World.
So, brief synopsis is that our heroine, Nine, lives in Freedom One (aka 1984 where everything means the opposite) and due to circumstances, she finds herself outside the province and gets to look at a different option of freedom.
She is brought up as quasi gender-neutral, but only because all children receive hormone suppressant injections. She has no family, rather she is part of a batch of bred hatchlings.
Days before her seventeenth birthday, she is due to be remade, ie she chooses her gender, her name, her appearance, and her occupation in life. Except she hasn’t yet decided who or what she is, or rather will be. Can’t say at nearly 17 that I had any idea either.
But, the shuttle that takes her to be remade to her choice – freedom to choose, yes? – crashes and she gets rescued by naughty rebels who live in an old-style family, with a mummy, daddy and siblings. They help each other and do difficult tasks like washing dishes rather than using a dishwasher.
The rebels don’t use electricity because they don’t want to be caught by the Freedom trackers, who can seek electricity. So it’s back to a simple life with no technological advances. Each Freedom citizen also wears a tracking device, although it’s believed not to work outside the province, hence Nine staying off the radar after her rescue.
What I found interesting, were the questions raised about freedom and choice.
The gender issue for one, and would deciding to be male or female include sexual preferences?
Choice of occupation for life. I wondered if there was added status to being a healer (aka a medic) compared with a street-sweeper? Wouldn’t most people go for the easiest, cushiest or, higher status trades. I mean, if you had your choice in life of what to do, I wouldn’t choose unblocking sewage or check-out operator working shifts at Morrisons. I’d be going for journalist/writer/editor/bossy manager. All of which would have to fit to the Freedom government tune. Nothing new there is there? If you think of the rise of self-publishing authors, the province would be inundated by people wanting to write – with blocked sewers.
The comparison between the Prime Maker in Freedom, and God in the rebel country.
Is there a difference, I ask? They both, apparently, are in charge of life.
And, the rebels insist on no sex before marriage… oh dear. Whereas the Freedom lot can agree to share partners, if they choose. An interesting one. So exactly where is the freedom of choice there in rebel land?
We have surrogate mothers (captured rebels) somewhat like Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, but, who were the fathers, if all the children were gender suppressed and made impotent when they chose their gender? Were they from rebel sperm? In which case how can you control breeding? Maybe I missed that bit.
So in summary, I found the portrayal of the loving family living the primitive life off the land somewhat idealistic, and very convenient. After all, Nine could just as easily have been found, washed up on the beach, by a drunken rapist. Each society considers their own to be the best, but each society, culture and sets of beliefs have their own specific flaws.
It was a little heavy on the teenage romance for me, and I would have preferred to dwell less on that, and have read more about life in Freedom Province to get a better comparison between the two opposite lives. Exploration of dystopia rather than pushing emotive buttons about teenage love would have made it a far tougher book.
For an impressionable young adult market, I would also have liked a greater discussion around the choices to be made, the pros and cons of the two different types of society, which, in the end both restrict freedom of the individual. Just in different ways.
It’s a good read, thought-provoking, well written with strong central characters, there are minimal errors and I like the striking cover. There are a couple of surprising twists, and if you like this type of book then I would recommend it.
Publicity blurb about the author:
Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and currently resides in the Rocky Mountains. She never wanted to be a writer even though she loves books and reading. She earned a degree in physics instead. But the characters in her head refused to be ignored, and now she spends her time writing science fiction for teens. When she is not writing, Ilima loves to spend time with her husband and four children.
I obviously got a free copy for my review, and in this case it’s part of an iReads book tour. It’s the first one I’ve had from iReads, but based on this, I’ve signed up for a couple of others and am looking forward to them. Plus, the co-ordinator, Laura, is very professional. And no, I don’t get paid for this.