20 January 2010

Review: Genesis by Bernard Beckett

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.

Genesis at Powell's
Genesis at Amazon
These 3 links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
Unabridged audio published by Brilliance Audio, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780547225494
Challenges: Young Adult, Support Your Library, New Authors, 2010, Global, Audiobooks, 100+
YTD: 6
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)
Rating: B+


Anonymous,  1/20/10, 7:46 AM  

Hmm, I've never heard of this book, but it sounds intriguing. Thanks for the review -- I'll look into it.

Anonymous,  1/20/10, 7:59 AM  

I put this one on my wishlist the other day :-) It sounds completely fascinating, and I love the philosophical debate about what IS life and consciousness. Who qualifies as a person? Very cool stuff.

Sandy Nawrot 1/20/10, 8:06 AM  

I just checked and my library does not have the audio - bummer. But it's not a long book, so I could easily snatch it up and slip it into my ever-insane reading schedule. I am intrigued.

Julie P. 1/20/10, 8:44 AM  

Wow! I can't say that I would have ever picked this up. I'm so glad you introduce different novels to me!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours 1/20/10, 8:57 AM  

I've had this one on my TBR for a while - I'd heard it was short and pretty powerful. Sounds like the other bloggers were right! I can't wait to finally read this one.

Jenn's Bookshelves 1/20/10, 9:18 AM  

Thank you for introducing me to this book. After reading your review, as well as your many tweets about it, I'm adding it to my "must buy" list.

Michelle 1/20/10, 11:36 AM  

Goodness, that does sound like a lot of material to pack into 160 pages. It appears that the Greeks are becoming the newest fad in literature...

Robin M 1/20/10, 12:04 PM  

You sold me. Checked out the excerpt on Amazon and ordered it.

Cathy 1/20/10, 12:08 PM  

Off I go to Paperback Swap. Thanks for the review!

bermudaonion 1/20/10, 3:31 PM  

You've convinced me that I need to add this to my wishlist.

Anonymous,  1/20/10, 4:14 PM  

Wow, this sounds really good. Between your review and all the talk about it on Twitter, I'm going to add this to my to-read list right away. And at 160 pages, I have no excuse not to read it!

Jenners 1/20/10, 7:06 PM  

Are you sure I'll understand it? It sounds pretty heavy duty. I'm adding it to my list.

Margot 1/20/10, 9:38 PM  

I have to admit that I am not attracted to dystopian fiction. However, I know I need to have an open mind and give them a try. This one actually sounds good.

christa @ mental foodie 1/20/10, 10:28 PM  

how funny, I just picked this up from the library a couple of weeks ago, not knowing anything about it and not seeing any blog reviews about it. I decided to borrow it because the storyline interested me.

Now I can't wait to read it!

Carrie K. 1/21/10, 12:46 AM  

Another one for the to-read list! Great review. :)

Rebecca Johnson 1/21/10, 4:10 AM  

I haven't heard of this one yet, but I'm intrigued...

Anonymous,  1/21/10, 1:23 PM  

Sounds really interesting. And short. I'll have to see if the library has it.

I have an award for you, by the way.


Louise 1/21/10, 3:04 PM  

Sounds like a really great book and something I would definitely enjoy. I just bought Battle Royale, but haven't decided when to read it yet. I also sort of had to buy a stack of other books, so....Oh, I'm so bad! LOL ;-D

Anonymous,  1/21/10, 6:48 PM  

Looks like a lot is packed in to a small book. Glad you liked it.

Jules 1/21/10, 8:37 PM  

You're review has convinced be to add this to my TBR list, I'll have to take a look soon, if I can find a place to stick this in my ever growing mountain of books to read. Thanks for the review.

Sherrie 1/23/10, 11:59 AM  

Hi Beth,
This sounds really intriguing! I will defintely be putting this on my TBR list. Have a great day!

Just Books

The1stdaughter 1/24/10, 9:26 PM  

I can't wait to read this one. It's already ordered and on it's way! Thanks for the recommendation via twitter too!

S. Krishna 1/25/10, 10:04 AM  

Wow, I've never heard of this book, but I've seen you and Amy discussing it over Twitter. I'll definitely put it on my TBR list!

Jen - devourer of books 1/25/10, 2:21 PM  

So I avoided your review until I read it, but I guess I didn't need to, because you did a really awesome job summarizing without giving anything away. Of course, it was kind of fun reading the first hour with NO idea what was going on.

Alice 1/30/10, 11:54 PM  

I enjoy dystopian novels and the sound of this one. I will check this out. Thanks for the review, Beth!

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