As promised, I took a break from my historical fiction streak. I decided to turn to science fiction, a genre I’m usually not too excited by. Not sure why, but it’s never been my preference. Something got me interested in Bernard Beckett’s book Genesis, though–I couldn’t say exactly what.
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
Courtesy of Amazon.com:
From Publishers 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. Though the trappings of Beckett’s dystopian society feel perhaps too Brave New World, the rigorous narrative and crushing final twist bring a welcome freshness to a familiar setup. (Apr.)
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The best word I can think of to describe Beckett’s book is “cerebral.” For a short book, it certainly made me think.
Strengths: Beckett puts a lot into 150 pages, but it’s well-paced. I will admit that for a large portion of the book, I found the philosophical discussions bordering on tedious–but when I read the ending, it knocked me sideways. The book had an ending I absolutely did not see coming, which is a rare treat. This strikes me as a book that will benefit from a second read.
Potential Flaws: As I mentioned above, I found myself bogged down in the cycle of philosophical conversation that took place. Not all readers will have the fortitude to press through to the ending, which is worth the effort.
Beckett’s masterful ending earned it an additional star at the end.