Remake

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.

image

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:

imageIlima 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.

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67 comments on “Remake

    • I don’t know that I’d call it science fiction, which I avoid too. More sort of slightly futuristic. Dystopian is a better description, I wouldn’t call 1984 or Brave New World science fiction. And much of 1984 is happening and has been doing for some time.

      It was interesting. I would have written it differently. Or I would have edited it differently :D

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  1. I am not sure. Teenage romance and science fiction? Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan, winner of the prestigious 2014 Man Booker literary award, says he is “ashamed to be Australian”.
    During a BBC interview, Flanagan was asked to respond to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent statement that “coal is good for humanity”.
    This might be more my cup-o- tea. I mean the writer and his book not Tony Abbott.

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    • As I said to Pink, I wouldn’t really call it science fiction. That always means Day of the Triffids to me, or spaceships and funny-looking aliens.

      I read an email notification about the Booker, but haven’t caught up yet. I’ve been offline for websites, just on for emails.

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  2. There certainly seems to be a wave of young adult “dystopian” books of late. A running joke I had with my pair of junior high-age daughters this past year involved me asking them what new book they had picked up and after they had told me the name I would reply, “let me guess, it’s a dystopian novel.” They would laugh and nod vigorously.

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        • I am just totally confused about why there is a need to have this strange false ground inbetween obviously children’s books (some of which are extremely good) and adult novels. Apart from being a marketing ploy, it also seems like an excuse to write somewhat tat books that wouldn’t bear scrutiny as adult novels, yet are ok to be passed on to unsuspecting teens. Insults their intelligence IMO.

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          • Well they should be slaving away reading proper books and doing homework instead of enjoying themselves! That’s all I have to say :D

            Seriously though, if I was teaching Eng Lit, I’d be interested in comparing ‘adult’ lit with similar YA/NA subject matter. It would be interesting. And probably depressing.

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    • Using the expression that someone was ” raised ” was obviously the personal choice of the writer and not one that is used exclusively when it comes to ” bringing up ” or ” educating ” a person in America. As far as tomatoes are concerned they are much more often ” grown ” than raised. The word raised is used more correctly in regard to people or animals……well, at least in American English. Isn’t language wonderful ? We all perceive it differently …

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    • In my part of Virginia, the children are “raised.” In New England, they were “brought up” to behave a certain way. As you know, regional accents and expressions are a source of endless fascination to me.

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        • Possibly “raised” is a holdover from the Protestant sermons, and hymns in an agricultural society. “Raised up in the ways of the Lord” heard on Sundays and Moms would adopt the phrase during the week…after all, the preachers where the ones with educated speech in some places.
          Raised corn, cultivated corn. Raised kids – I guess they were cultivated in one location or another, too?
          It is funny. Great point.

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      • Brought up is interesting. Usually, it was always in reference to “well” brought up. Must be your New England/old English inheritance coming through using the same words. But one that has bugged me since Pink highlighted it elsewhere is “drug up”. I think it means dragged up. Or something. It sounds truly awful. I keep reading it in American “novels”. Is it seriously acceptable in Americanese?

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          • Dire, isn’t it? The classic phrase for bad or rude behaviour, ie without manners, was to say someone was ‘dragged up in a barn’. But drug up? I thought it as a one-off when I first read it on a blog, but I’ve now read it in three books. I’ve not taken enough interest in the authors, but I’ll start from now and see where they are from.

            The problem now is, that I will be tempted to use it sarcastically …

            Liked by 1 person

    • In my part of the US people would ask where you “grew up”. It was a hangover from my parents’ time, when people actually did grow up. In my generation that was abandoned, and as far as I can tell has never been revived in that country. The UK having come under overwhelming American influence, I assume the same thing has happened there.
      Leon Stephens

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      • As I recall, people would ask where it was that you came from….a question increasingly harder to answer with increased mobility.
        If it meant where you were born it might have no relation to where you grew up/were brought up…For my grandparents it wasn’t a problem – their childhoods had been static…for my own parents it wasn’t a problem, but for many of their friends – at boarding school while parents were abroad – it was.
        For my generation by the time we’d run through the where we lived when process the enquirer would have died from boredom or shabbed off for a stiff drink.

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        • Absolutely. Where are you from. Immediate problem, where do you live or where were you born?

          I live in Gib and La Axarquía, and I come from Yorkshire. Not much point mentioning Yorkshire in Spain, so in answer to ‘de dónde viene?’ the answer is the pueblo or Gib. But the last time Partner said Gibraltar, he was met with a blank look. ‘El Peñon inglés’. Adding Kent, Wales, Herts and Australia into that mix would indeed lead to said nosy person resolving never to ask that one again.

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  3. I am sitting here with my morning coffee wondering if I am too old and out of touch. But then I remember that even fifty years ago when I was a teenager, I was not interested in that kind of book and don’t remember if they even existed. I must however congratulate you, because your writing is interesting and made me read the whole piece….but that is all I can say. Good job…

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    • I don’t think they did, as I said to another commenter. Sure, there were dystopian books but they ere adult that teens read. And this is my gripe. Why can’t teens read adult books any more? Marketing ploy par excellence.

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    • I think romance is meant to be the big market (pls pass vomit bucket) prob followed by YA and fantasy. Combine the three? Shazzam.

      The fiction I used to buy tended to be based on reading through the broadsheet book review pages. But times have moved on in fiction.

      My print book buying tends to be non-fiction, Gibraltar history, and guide to finances :D

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    • Thanks for commenting Ilima, I enjoyed it. Cracking cover too.

      I’ve tried to look back to reference it again for my replies and reviews elsewhere, but I have no licence. Does your publisher only issue a one-read only licence?!!!

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  4. Makes me think of Logan’s Run.

    I like young adult fiction. Jane Austen’s oldest heroine is 27, and most are teenagers. There is this wonderful thing on E4 at the moment called “Glue”, a murder mystery with several fascinating characters, aged about 20.

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    • I thought of Logan’s Run too. And I’m enjoying ‘Glue’ too, even though I’m years away from what I assume is the much younger target audience.

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    • Well I’ve not read LR but sounds good. Another one for the list. I’m probably shortly for the sleep list…

      I used to like kids TV on Sunday afternoons on BBC. The Children of the Stones was excellent.

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  5. Hi Kate. I wonder if you have read “The Giver” and how you would compare it to “Remake.” Recently listened to a fascinating interview on NPR about The Giver and thought I would give it a whirl. Any thoughts?

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    • I haven’t read it, but yes I can see the similarities. I’ll have to see if it’s in our library. The Giver is interesting in that it has gone on ‘challenged’ lists. I’m not a believer in age restrictions for books, I would rather children/teenagers read as widely as possible and hopefully learn to discriminate and make up their minds about what is right.

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  6. I like how as well as reviewing you proposed ideas of how some of the topics could be expanded. If I encountered this book on a library shelf, I’d probably read it, it has some interesting aspects.

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    • They were the questions and thoughts that the book produced as I read. In that respect it was good that it made me think. That I thought they weren’t sufficiently explored is another matter. If you read it, on your ever-expanding wish list, I’d love to hear your views.

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    • I think the only labels when I was young were spy, mystery, thriller, historical fiction and classical. Prob sci-fi. But none of this obsessive this is suitable for this audience or that one, putting-everyone-in-boxes syndrome.

      How do you describe One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch? I read that in my early teens. Is that a young adult story?

      Less labels across the board might possibly be a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I laughed all the way through this review. You have a great style and some media should have grabbed you by now, “bossy manager.”
    “Hatchlings”
    Seems like one of those “Here’s the new boss, same as the old boss” novels. You brought out several intriguing points that could have been explored. Perhaps the author is only focusing on the content that will draw teen readers…occupations, blah.
    Would be a good direction for some adult novel to wander.
    Enjoyable review – will watch for the next one

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    • They can grab me for freelance work :)

      Well, having worked for bossy managers, refused to even consider a career as one, I naturally became one.

      Teen readers. Hmmm. Why is this a new thing? There were no teen books when I was a kid. I moved smoothly from Enid Blyton to reading my parents’ library books. I don’t think Harold Robbins was a YA book. George Peppard was a dream in one of the films of his books though. I dreamily digress.

      It would have made a great adult novel. That’s my one nag about YA/NA novels. It’s like dumbing down at the time when young minds should be exploring and thinking laterally.

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      • YA? Have to blame marketing dept? Thing about sales is you always have to find new buyers and give new/old buyers reasons to buy. Need a gift for that fussy teen, grandparents? They’ll love this – it’s just for teens!
        Not to mention that some educators / literacy people in the 70’s decided teens needed special reading material just for them with their language, easy reading vocabulary and no think plot structures, situations, and relevancy….like Romeo and Juliet, Hound of the Baskervilles, Tell Tale Heart weren’t.
        Now things are so dumbed down, and many reading levels/vocabulary level are so low, what should be appropriate reading is too difficult…and we can’t have the little dahlings struggle and get discouraged. Everyone wins! Or not.

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        • Def a marketing thing, clever in terms of sales, not so clever in terms of education and literary development. I did get bought books as a kid, usually a new one every Wednesday when my mother came to pick me up on Wednesday for half day. Books were always the pacifier for me. I would go out for lunch with my parents and out would come a book and I would read away while they got on with boring grown ups talk.

          But there were no kids books at school (senior school, ie 11-18). Our entrance exam was an extract from Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, we studied Shakespeare every year, British poets, American 20th century playwrights and authors, 19th century British classics etc. Back then it would have been intellectual suicide to admit reading Meyer for pleasure (for example). My small group of friends bought me a birthday present one year – they knew I liked Solzhenitsyn so they chose August 1918 for me. I doubt the majority of today’s teens have any idea who he is.

          But I think we have had this depressing conversation before. And will no doubt have it again.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. After reading your review, of a genre I wouldn’t normally choose, I’m tempted to read it. It’s made me think back to career choices I made at 17 & the thought of having to make that decision permanent is horrifying.

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    • I think the arbitrary ages we assign for major decisions in life are fascination. Marriage, drinking alcohol, buying cigarettes, signing up to fight, voting. How much do we really know at say, 17? Especially if we have led a relatively sheltered privileged life. In this case, Nine had led more of a communal life, basic physiological needs provided and her life was pretty much mapped out – she just needed to make those all-important choices.

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  9. Wow, a standalone review… very unlike you! I love the synopsis and your reaction to it. Very interesting. Mm… different being able to choose your gender and occupation etc. That would certainly change life as it is. However, I think it’s a genius way of dealing with Gender issues and sexuality. Can’t see how the occupation part would work… one tends to change one’s mind about what one would like to do. :)

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    • Haha. I thought it was decent enough to merit one actually. Imaginative, and raised interesting issues. Thought you didn’t like synopses? You do have to write something about the plot theme before you can get onto the interesting bit. And I abhor using the standard blurb provided with most books. It’s usually pretty bland.

      Gender choice for another character does come up in the book and is a good surprise. It would be a good way to deal with transsexualism certainly. No messing about, analysis and all that, hey what do want, your choice.

      One does change ones mind. At one point I fancied working at Fylingdales.

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      • It certainly does. I don’t mind a synopsis as long as it’s decent enough… some drawl on, give away the plot, etc, etc. Yours was decent and didn’t give away too much. Due to the nature of this work… it needs a synopsis along with the review. I would hardly condone doing a synopsis for every review you do… but you always have permission to do so on mine. :P ;)

        Been a while since I heard that name… Flyingdales. Sounds like it would have been fun. “Quick, dive, something’s coming over and fast!” :D

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        • I read many ‘reviews’ for this book that did no more than repeat the plot, and said, ‘this was a good book’. Gee. A book review?

          There are some decent reviews for it on goodreads. I like this book tour company because they let you be honest. I think that is more important than gush.

          Gushing roughseas eh?

          A few pars to say what it is about, the rest to discuss the issues surely?

          Think I’ve run out of your books to review. Write more.

          Fylingdales. Just sounded so exotic and those (non-existent) golf balls just appeared. Out of nowhere … Dream sci-fi.

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  10. an informative review. lots of choices for a 17-year old! at 17 i certainly never knew what i wanted to be when i grew up. some days i still wonder :)
     
    even so, probably not a book i would choose to read if there were others to select from. am not a big sci-fi fan. my favourite authors off the top of my head are still Jane Austen, Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Dr Seuss and A A Milne (as in Winnie the Pooh), although i probably missed some. :)

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    • Quite. I couldn’t even decide what degree to study! And as for what I wanted to do/be …

      Well I like Winnie the Pooh. But I remember we had different book tastes way back in our first exchanges :D Plus ça change?

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  11. of course, as soon as the comment was left, Tolkien and CS Lewis came to mind. The Chronicles of Narnia are among my all-time favourite books. i actually read the entire series one winter while studying for Christmas final exams and working on papers during my studies at university. it was pure escape from the looming deadlines, and yet it was time well-spent. so enjoyable – and a real de-stresser, if that is a word :)

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  12. Very interesting and it raises some interesting questions, as you do in the review. And I’m not a fan that all books have to have labels. It drives me crazy.

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    • Labels are a bit like stars. Three, four or five means little unless you read the rational for awarding the stars. Similarly, a label means nothing unless you read a précis.

      I did find the concepts explored in the books interesting. I would just have liked it to have gone a little deeper.

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  13. Love stories like this and makes me wonder when they’re going to make it into a movie. LOL!
    Great review Kate and if you got paid for doing these great reviews, you’d be a millionaire by now. :D

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    • I was so busy ranting about pesticides I forgot to reply to your kind enquiry. I’m ok and the beasties are well. All curled up and quiet right now. But they send some gentle nose rubs to you and Simba, and we all hope you are feeling better.

      It would make a good film without too much adaptation either.

      Thanks Sonel, that’s sweet of you. I do more objective ones on other sites, but as it’s my blog I can say what I want :) One of the reasons I like this book tour company is that you don’t have to write a gushing ‘I love this book’ review, unlike some of the other companies. You are allowed to be honest, shock horror. And to be fair, they do dish out an Amazon gift voucher for every twenty reviews. Works out at around 30 pence a review :D

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! No problem and I am glad you are all doing okay. Thank them for the gentle nose rubs. Simba sends lots of licks and woofs. I am also doing okay and have no complaints at all. It could have been worse. :D

        It sure would. Oh, I wanted to say I just love the cover as well and it makes for an awesome header. I love it! :D

        It’s always good to say what you want and at least you’re honest. I like that. Better to be honest and that way people know where they stand.

        That sounds awesome. Sounds like one of these days you will be a millionaire. :D

        Like

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