The Colony, J. Tomas
Publisher: Queerteen Press
Genre: YA, LGBT (G), Sci-Fi
Length: 200 pages (Each)
Due to the relatively short lengths (for me anyway) and almost identical covers I decided to review Rebellion and Revolution at the same time and give them an overall rating. Respectively these are books 1 and 2 in The Colony Series. I believe that they should have been combined as one epic narrative; it was not outside the realm of possibility with a total of 400 pages. The fact they were separate did not affect their rating (obviously) just wanted to explain the joint review.
***WARNING: Spoilers Ahead***
“It started the way all rebellions do. With a dream.”
Aine is 16 and lives in The Colony, a small city sheltered away from the world; a world which by all accounts is lifeless from the ravages of nuclear war. Natural birth no longer exists, each inhabitant of The Colony is genetically engineered to fit a place in society and grown. Each person is matched to their ‘Other’ who is also engineered to be their perfect, complementing partner. The colony is protected by having two-way monitors in every room where in unusual circumstances, such as medical emergencies, the connection becomes active.
To keep society healthy, each person is required to take pills; red, green, white and blue. One night Aine drops his blue pill into the carpet by accident and then inadvertently crushes it. He expects alarms to sound and a head to appear on the monitor in his room, but nothing happens. Aine lays down to sleep and does something he has never experienced before. Dream.
Aside from the initial shock that he’s dreaming the content of it was even more disturbing. Instead of dreaming of Brin, his assigned partner, Aine instead dreams about Kyer, his friend. This causes him to awake early, something highly unusual, at which point he is medically tested remotely and ordered to report to the Health Center. Kyer comes with him and Aine works out that he is truly attracted to him.
Despite the check-ups Aine seems to get away with missing the pill. The next night he doesn’t take the blue pill again, finding that dreams are highly addictive. Over the course of the next few weeks Aine stops taking his pills one by one, discovering the dark nature of The Colony and what he is destined to do with his life.
Freedom (A.K.A. What I Loved)
FAVOURITE GENRE EVER!!!
Seriously, I absolutely adore books like this and The Colony is no exception. I find stories that show where we could end up going as a species so incredibly interesting. Even better the false sense of Utopia is played beautifully with only those who stop taking the pills discovering how dark and hopeless their society really is.
Over the course of both books you will discover many of the Colony’s secrets as well as a vague location and timeframe. What I loved though was how the author also embedded a layer of extra mystery within the story. The true story of the past is never certain with multiple accounts contradicting each other. I do not mind that the readers never discover the answer to everything, in fact I find it highly appealing. If we found everything out in 400 pages it wouldn’t seem like a real history.
One key mystery for me revolves around the creation of Aine. In the colony every person is perfectly engineered to fill a particular role in society and undertake certain actions during their lives. The pills of course take away the free will component. The mystery is that whoever created Aine should have known he’d stop taking his pills and lead this revolution. Oversight? Destiny? No one knows by the end of the book. I love having these sorts of questions lingering.
Rebellion & Revolution
While reading these books I definitely felt there was one worthy message that everyone should take away; you shouldn’t need to conform to society. You should follow your heart. In removing himself from the drugs Aine did exactly this with the end result being at better world had been created. Not everyone went along willingly, in any society you will have people who staunchly favour the status quo above all else, but their opinions were duly respected and each person was still treated with dignity.
I dearly loved this theme and while I was reading it the following song came blaring through my headphones. Thought I’d share it with you all because it fits this book very well.
Monitors (A.K.A. What I Found Off)
False Sense of Similarity
While I did like the dystopian premise of Rebellion it felt like I was reading a book or film that I had already experienced. Upon reflection I realised that it wasn’t the case and those that I thought were similar were instead the mainstays of this dystopian genre; examples being 1984, Soylent Green and A Clockwork Orange.
The Colony is an original story with an excellent premise but in the end it did not move far from these aforementioned mainstays.
I simply found this unsatisfying and it left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth at the end of Revolution. No mention was made of Aine and Kyer’s friends on the outside and given how much Aine cared about them during the book I found it odd that they were forgotten over the two year period.
This epic story is one that I will not quickly forget, The Colony sets a very high standard for other YA stories set in either a dystopian future or falling in the science fiction genre. Other than a few minor typo’s and the other niggles mentioned above I cannot fault these excellent books. I highly recommend reading both.
“Our future together awaited.”