What on Earth did I just read? Was that a speech or a novel? Was that a YA book or one written for adults? Was the character... Well no I can't give that away for prospective readers. This is a book that has to be read without anything spoiling the plot (I will still provide a non-spoiling summary). What I will say is that if you've read [b:Planet of the Apes|414895|Planet of the Apes|Pierre Boulle|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320558901s/414895.jpg|2939507] before then read this. This novel is something of a YA version of that with a bit of a twist.Genesis
is not written in the usual form of other YA novels. It takes the form of a discussion, or rather a kind of oral essay. The main character, Anaximander,is giving her speech on historic events that begun years ago. She is researching the 'long-dead hero' Adam Forde who defied the past republic for the way it treated potential plague carrying asylum seekers. Pretty soon her essay turns not only into a discussion of how she viewed those past events, but a discussion about the ethics of the past government and about what makes a human human. In fact it had plenty to say on a myriad of ethical and historical issues. It challenged the idea of how we view history, the suggestion was there from the beginning as to how reliable the sources and narrators were in presenting 'facts' and it also looked at the relationship between man and machine.Do not look under this spoiler tag if you've not read the book.
I personally slightly missed the subtle twist in the book. But then that was the clever aspect of this book. The author played upon his readers assumptions: yes, of course our main character is human. It's in the way she uses dialogue and how we perceive everything in the novel. But ultimately she proved to be one of the A.I. And I think this challenged the idea of what it is to be human even more than anything else in the novel. (I mean the phrase 'download a sunset' earlier should have been a clue but I took it from the human perspective. Because that was my fixed point for this novel.)
I also found it fascinating how the author had the robots turn their society into a replica of the humans dystopian society. Was this the author's way of suggesting how when it comes to our humanity we turn things into a cycle that is adopted by others? One dictatorship ends and another begins?
Do you know those times when you read a line and you think 'how perfectly this has been written'? I have those moments when I read and if the writing is grand I note just how easily and organically everything, particularly the dialogue fits into place. This book has been written just like that: with a rather simplistic vocabulary but with everything fitting neatly into place. It feels as if this book were being made as you read and yet clearly months or perhaps years were spent sorting every word into the proper and final order.
I had never read a book by Bernard Beckett before, yet I am interested enough by this astounding book to want to read more of his work. It was a YA book that was very much adult in how philosophical it was. I encourage all people to read it whether you like sci-fi, YA books or dystopian sci-fi. This is very much an entertaining read full of philosophical ideas. Despite the novel only being 150 short pages this is a must read novel among YA fiction and fiction in general.
Further note: you know what I'm going back and changing this to a five star review. This book deserves those stars.