M. D. Waters
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“A twisty, thought-provoking futuristic tale that unnerves and enthralls.” –Family Circle
In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which . . .
In the stunning first volume of a two-book series that will appeal to readers of William Gibson and Philip K. Dick, Emma wakes with her memory wiped clean. Her husband, Declan—a powerful and seductive man—narrates the story of her past, but Emma’s dreams contradict him. They show her war, a camp where girls are trained to be wives, and love for another man. Something inside warns her not to speak of these things, but the line between her dreams and reality is about to shatter forever.
fast-paced engaging future world
Emma wakes with no memory of her past. As she recovers, she is told that she is the wife of Declan, a powerful man. She grows to love Declan and they begin their life together. But Emma is keeping a secret from Declan and the doctor who has been monitoring her recovery - she gets flashes of another life that conflicts with what she has been told by her husband and the voice in her head keeps telling her not to trust him.
Set in a future world where the US no longer exists, female births are a rare occurrence and fertile young women are raised in centers to be “wives” to those who can afford it, Water’s novel revolves around the ideas of freedom and choice for women. As Emma begins to remember more, the audience glimpses the reality of the world Emma’s husband is trying to keep her from - one where women are sold to the highest bidder, where there is a resistance movement and her husband’s company is making technological strides but at a cost few would want to pay.
Narrated by Emma, the novel moves between her present and flashes of her past. The flashbacks are well paced, and intriguing enough without being confusing. As the past is filled in and things begin to make sense, Emma has a chance encounter from someone from her memories, but their reaction to her makes her question those memories and she is less sure than ever about her past and who she is. Ultimately, she has to decide what and who she wants, and who she is.
Overall, Waters tells a good story. The characters are believable and the story unfolds at a good pace. I was not particularly surprised by the ‘twist’ but Waters left plenty of clues and I think the surprise was more for the characters than the audience. The book was somewhat reminiscent of Atwood’s <i>Handmaids Tale</i> and more recently, Hillary Jordan’s <i>When She Woke</i>, as speculative fiction based on the story of one individual caught in a dehumanizing system. While lacking Atwood’s brilliant wordplay and political insight, Waters still touches on hot topics like runaway science, the role of women, and personal identity in an interesting way. The story doesn't get bogged down in the science and the big political arguments about it, but is much more engaged in the personal toll of that science.
While tying up the novel satisfactorily, it definitely sets up the sequel due out this summer. <i>Archetype</i> is a good, quick read - part thriller, part sci-fi, and part journey of self-discovery with a dose of thought provoking ideas to keep things interesting.