Book Review - Genesis by Bernard Beckett
A friend of mine last week recommended that I pick up Genesis by Bernard Beckett. A novella at 150 pages, he said it was a good read with an excellent ending. So, the library had a copy available and it was sent to my local branch within a day or two. I started reading last night, and finished it today. He was right... it's an interesting read dealing with a fair amount of philosophy, but the ending caught me totally off-guard. I was even thinking I knew what the ending would be since he had tipped me to a major twist. Nope... didn't see that one coming.
An all-out world war started in 2050, and ended with most all the inhabitants of the planet being killed off. That is, except for those who had followed a leader named Plato who had purchased a group of islands at the bottom of the world. He set up his own Republic, shaped the society, and built a secure border defense to kill anyone who tried to make it to the island as a refugee. A rogue leader on the island, Adam Forde, broke this "take no refugees" rule one time when he helped a defenseless young girl breech the sea fence instead of killing her on sight. The event and the subsequent trial and death of Forde form much of the mythology of the society.
Anaximander is a resident of the Republic, and she's trying to gain admittance into the Academy, the ruling board of the Republic. She is having her admittance exam in front of three examiners, and she has four hours to expound on a particular topic as they grill and scrutinize her. She's chosen to discuss the history of Forde and offer up an alternative analysis of his death and its meaning. Although controversial, her presentation and work in front of the panel is going well until the questioning takes an expected turn. This new information forces her to reexamine everything she thought she knew about the Republic and the role that Forde played in shaping the life she currently lives.
In terms of plot, there isn't a lot of action. There's the singular event that caused all the initial problems. Everything after that is dialogue and philosophical discussions, both on the part of Amaximander and in the recreation of Forde's life behind bars after being arrested. The topics are interesting, however, and watching Forde being broken down bit by bit was fascinating. But what made the book for me was the ending. After finishing the book and digesting the end, I almost wanted to start the book over again and reread it with the new perspective. I'm sure the book would have been just as interesting the second time around...