Genesis [Book Review]

Title: Genesis
Author: Bernard Beckett
Genre: Contemporary Fiction; Dystopian
ISBN: 0547225490
Pages: 150
Year: 2009
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Dunedin Public Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Plot summary (from Publisher’s Weekly):

Anax, the dedicated student historian at the center of Beckett’s brutal dystopian novel, lives far in the future—the distant past events of the 21st century are taught in classrooms. The world of that era, we learn, was ravaged by plague and decay, the legacy of the Last War. Only the island Republic, situated near the bottom of the globe, remained stable and ordered, but at the cost of personal freedom. Anax, hoping her scholarly achievements will gain her entrance to the Academy, which rules her society, has extensively studied Adam Forde, a brilliant and rebellious citizen of the Republic who fought for human dignity in the midst of a regimented, sterile society. To join the Academy’s ranks, Anax undergoes a test before three examiners, and as the examination progresses, it becomes clear that her interpretations of Adam’s life defy conventional thought and there may be more to Adam—and the Academy—than she had imagined.

Other Books I’ve Read By Author: None

Why I Picked Up This Book: Lots of other book  bloggers were reading and discussing it.

My thoughts:

I sat down one Sunday afternoon earlier this month with the intention of taking a quick break from cleaning, laundry, and the like. I picked up this book to read for a few minutes. I ended up reading the entire thing in one sitting. Granted, it’s a short book, but I was so intrigued and lost in Anax’s world that I didn’t even realize my afternoon was quickly slipping away from me.

Through the medium of her examination to the Academy, Anax tells us the story of how our world became her world and the important role a man named Adam Forde played in it. The whole thing was completely fascinating and not what I expected at all. Not only was the story interesting, the philosophical questions posed by it are thought-provoking. I don’t want to discuss them in detail because I want you all to discover this book on your own, but at the same time, I really want to discuss this story. (I may have forced Ben to read it so that I had someone to discuss it with).

The only fault I have with the story has to do with the ending – not the way it ended, but just one aspect of it. It felt a little too similar to a certain movie from the 1960s (those who have read it will know what I am talking about I hope) and I wasn’t sure if that detail was necessary.

I know I’ve been on a dystopian kick lately and I’ve been recommending a bunch of dystopian novels, but I want you all to read this one, too. I mean it’s only 150 pages and I read it in an afternoon.

Memorable Passages:

“Anax was yet to meet anyone who could say the name without pausing at its significance.” p. 13

“You’re just silicon,” he said, as he turned the page. “And you’re just carbon,” Art persevered. “Since when has the periodic table been grounds for discrimination.” 92

“It was impossible to tell whether it was breath or words he had run out of.” 101

“In rage, in competition, we may say things we do not believe.” 101

“You can’t start with the assumption that machines can’t understand to build up an argument that machines can’t understand.” 109

Will I Read This Author Again?: Yes

Other Reviews:

Buy It Now: Amazon; Powell’s; Book Depository

New Additions to TBR

Some books that I added to my ever-growing TBR list this week:

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
Recommended by: Everyone – this book has been the talk of the week
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Recommended by: Beth Fish Reads (+ everyone – if people weren’t talking about The Unnamed this week, they were talking about Genesis.
Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford
Recommended by: Booking Mama
Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
Recommended by: Presenting Lenore and Shweta’s Book Journal

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
Recommended by: A Striped Armchair