Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Review/Discussion: Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Genesis just came out recently in the US, and since it is being marketed as dystopian fiction, I thought it might be fun to have a discussion about it with other bloggers who had varying levels of confrontration with the genre. And thus, today's discussion between me, Alea of Pop Culture Junkie and Sharon of Sharon Loves Books and Cats was born. We've spread the discussion over our three blogs, so after you finish here, please stop over to their blogs to check out the rest of the (spoiler-free) discussion!

For those not familiar with Genesis here's the information off the back of the ARC:

It's the year 2075. A remote island Republic has emerged from an apocalyptic, plague- ridden past. Its citizens are safe but not free. They live in complete isolation from the outside world. Approaching planes are gunned down, refugees shot on sight. Until one man rescues a girl from the sea... Outstanding and original, Bernard Beckett's dramatic narratives comes to a stunning close that will leave you reeling. This perfect combination of thrilling page-turner and provocative novel of ideas demands to be read again and again.

And let's jump into the discussion.
Lenore: Alea, you knew this was labeled dystopia when you started reading. Was the novel what you expected? In addition to this, you've also read The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Are you intrigued by the genre? Or would you say it's not for you?

Alea: I guess I wasn't really sure what to expect when reading Genesis. I would definitely say there was far more philosophy than I was expecting. I would say I was hoping for a bit more information on the background of the story and the world that the author has created (but I think I always expect that, I love the details). I would definitely say that Genesis sparked my interest in this genre, definitely more so than The Forest of Hands and Teeth. While the Forest of Hands and Teeth left me sort of bored and not surprised, Genesis shocked me several times over and gave me the chills. I loved it! And I definitely hope to read more in this genre.

Lenore: Sharon, how was Genesis like dystopias you've read before? What was different? How would you rank it compared to other dystopian stories?

Sharon: The format of Genesis was unlike other dystopian novels that I’ve read in the past. I’m actually very surprised that Genesis was labeled as a young adult book. The format was quite different from other young adult dystopian novels that I’ve read. One example that comes to mind is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Both Uglies and Genesis are dystopian novels written from the point of view of a teenager girl. Uglies follows the traditional format of most dystopian books that I’ve read. It is suspenseful and fast paced. Genesis on the other hand, followed a much slower pace and wasn’t really suspenseful. Another thing that made Genesis different for me was the ending. Young adult dystopias tend to have happy endings and don’t leave you with a lot of unanswered questions. Genesis on the other hand, left me with a ton of unanswered questions and certainly did not have a happy ending.

Despite that fact the Genesis didn’t follow the traditional format of young adult dystopias, I still really enjoyed it. The story was extremely thought provoking and the ending absolutely shocked me. I love being surprised and Genesis was a huge surprise for me. I was really expecting a typical dystopian story but, I got so much more!

Alea: What did you think about the structure of Genesis? Do you think the story could have been told in a more traditional way?

Lenore: I agree with Sharon that the structure of the novel slowed it down, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in this case. The narrative is divided into three examination hours with two breaks in between. The examination is question and answer format and Anax is expected to show that she knows about her subject. The result is that the novel is almost entirely exposition. However, this breaking of the “show, don’t tell” rule works well here – quickly bringing us up to speed on the events that led to the breakdown of society as we know it, the dystopian society led by Plato that came after, and the current situation. Very important parts of the story are told through hologram presentations so that we can see the interaction at the core of the novel - that between the human Adam Forde and the robot Art. I think if the story had been told more traditionally, it would have been very difficult to make it as thought-provoking and shocking as it is now. I’m pretty convinced that its unusual structure is the basis for its success as a story. Unlike Sharon, I actually found it to be quite suspenseful. And I didn’t mind too much that a lot of the questions were left unanswered – I just let my imagination run wild with speculation.

If you're intrigued, continue reading the discussion and enter the contest to win a copy of Genesis at Pop Culture Junkie and read another part of our discussion at Sharon's.


Alea said...

I had a blast doing this with you two! And what a book to do it for. It gave me chills! :D

Lenore said...

Yes! Thanks for doing this with me Alea and Sharon. It was a lot of fun :)

sharonanne said...

mine is finally up:

yay! need more tea then I will read yours.

Silvia said...

I didn't know if reading this book, but I think I'll read it.
After reading the summary again and the discussion I think it actually sounds really good. Thanks for that!

Heather Zundel said...

Dang, I've never heard of this book, but now I am very very interested.

vvb32 reads said...

i'm interested in the hologram presentations mentioned. also, writing style sounds exciting and different.

Mishel said...

First time hearing about Genesis and it sounds very intriguing. I must admit I haven't read a dystopian novel before, at least not that I can recall lol. Sad I know. This one sounds perfect to start on because (according to Sharon) it's different than the traditional format of most dystopian novels. I do have many on my TBR list but haven't gotten a chance to get to them yet.

I enjoyed the post Lenore and am heading over to Alea's and Sharon's blog =D Thanks!

H said...

I almost got this book but then I didn't. Now I think I will!

Frannie said...

this books just now is publishing in spanish. I waiting for read this book, have a nice look. I Love the plot is very interesting.
So, ago time I visit your blog but no comment nothing. But now, I here, mi first comment, an d the first of more, very more ;)

I hope to come here often.

Also, too, I linked you to friends group list in my blog. ^^



If you can some day, visit my blog, is in spanish, but something undertand you =^^=

Insert Book Title said...

Fun! Gotta this one!

Anna said...

What a great discussion! Sounds like an interesting book.

Diary of an Eccentric

Shawna said...

I've read several dystopian novels before, but none like Genesis. I enjoyed most of the story. I was, however, extremely put off by the ending. I felt the author cheated or at the very least lied. It makes me feel like I wasted the hour I spent reading it. I don't enjoy novels that are forced to rely on a twist at the end of the story.

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