Tender and lovely… A superb novel.
Debut author Mawhineyt’s near-future novel is set in a world 50 years in the future on earth where everyone works together for attaining sustainability. Racism, climate change, and violence are the things of the past. The new world is a unified entity that values respect and collaboration. When fifteen-year-old Fania returns from Immersion, she is hoping to get assigned to something grand that would prepare her for an important role with the Earth Project. Instead, she finds herself beginning the next phase of her education with her granny, Alicia. The two strong personalities clash as Fania learns about the past and her family’s role in it. Determined to unravel the hidden secrets behind Alicia’s work, Fania sets out to look for the truth. Mawhiney keeps the things simple by restricting the action to the Land of Hope. The story hints at greater problems, such as “extreme disinfection and daily testing practices,” “isolation requirements” as well as Fania coming across Alecia and her other family members’ roles in shaping the past. The worldbuilding is excellent, with startling revelations about a futuristic world in which every single individual is working toward a single goal: tipping of earth in hope of seeing temperamental weather patterns settle into more constant and less tumultuous extremes, lives becoming safer from illness, and lands becoming more arable. Mawhiney bestows considerable care on her dystopian universe, but it’s the people who take front and center. She creates sympathetic, emotionally complex characters in Fania, Alicia, Nuna, and others. Though the cast is extensive, the story mainly revolves around lives of Fania and her loved ones. Mawhiney’s depictions of a close-knit family and a unified society are hopeful, and she offers a deep exploration of individualism, freedom of thought and expression, decision-making, life purpose and goal, and regret and redemption. Conflicts are rampant, whether they come at the behest of a society as the whole or the characters’ individual struggles, and readers will find themselves invested in what happens when the lives of the characters collide. Mawhiney skillfully tackles environmental and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while examining issues of family, relationships, love, and friendship. The ending is both hopeful and satisfying, and this book could act as either a stand-alone or the beginning of a new series. Imaginative premise, expert pacing, and thoughtful characterization make this dystopian tale a winner.
By A-M Mawhiney
Pub date November 15th 2021
Price $34.70 (USD) Hardcover, $19.99 Paperback, $7.79 Kindle edition