Genesis by Bernard Beckett is the story of Anaximander, pupil of Pericles and student of history. Anax is about to take her oral examination for entry into the Academy, which is the ruling body of the island nation she lives in. This is the moment she's trained for, and she's as ready as she can be.
Anax's specialty is the history of her country in the mid-twenty-first century, in particular the acts and arrest of Adam Forde (2058–2077). Adam was stationed in the island's watchtowers, making sure no outsider breached the Great Sea Fence, the Republic's protection against plague-ridden immigrants. Owing to an act of rebellion that had the potential to endanger the entire community, Adam was imprisoned with only Art, a highly developed android, for company. Through Anax's entrance exam, we learn not only the fate of our own society but the transformation of Adam from criminal to folk hero.
It is difficult to convey the amount of material that Beckett manages to pack into 160 pages. The philosophical debate centers around what it means to be human, the divide between robot and humankind, whether it is possible to create true artificial intelligence, the implications of DNA testing, and the notion of free will. The dialogue is dense but easily understood, and the plot has enough action that the book never drags.
Unfortunately, I have no way of discussing this book without ruining the entire experience. Just take my word for it, this is a book worth reading and worth owning, so you can reread it—maybe even moments after you finish the first time.
Genesis is unique in the dystopian genre. Read this description from the Last Blog in the Universe and read Amy's (My Friend Amy) thoughts on why she likes dystopian novels. Then ask yourself where Genesis fits in and track me down for a spoiler-free discussion.
I listened to the unabridged audio read by Becky Wright. She did a great job conveying the appropriate emotions and voices without detracting from the narrative. Wright is a new to me narrator, but I wouldn't hesitate to listen to her again.
Bernard Beckett does not have a website, but you can read about him at the New Zealand Book Council site.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
Unabridged audio published by Brilliance Audio, 2009
Challenges: Young Adult, Support Your Library, New Authors, 2010, Global, Audiobooks, 100+
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)