ISBN 13: 9780996278720
Published December 7th, 2015
“Imagine a world without books…
In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.
Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.” (Synopsis from Goodreads)
The premise of the book is intriguing; as the world becomes more and more post-literate, a new government cooks up a way to induce agraphia in the brain and bans reading as a tool of subversion.
While the writing is solid, it doesn’t completely deliver on the premise. You don’t get a good solid feel that these are post-literate people, as they communicate with each other with an ease and sophistication that belies a deeper comprehension. Coupled with that is with an odd, nearly magical and sudden ability for some to not only instantly read written words, but to supply, understand, and talk about words that it is implied they’ve never heard before. One would almost expect something like Orwell’s Newspeak to indicate a more linguistically stunted and controlled populace, but instead it appears the post-literacy is more talked about in exposition than actually demonstrated.
Some of the ideas are classic dystopian world concepts we’ve seen before, and the idea of what a post literate world might look like is ambitious, but I’m afraid it’s missed the mark.
JL Jamieson is a strange book nerd who writes technical documents by day, and book news, reviews, and other assorted opinions for you by night. She is working on her own fiction, and spends time making jewelry to sell at local conventions, as well as stalking the social media accounts of all your favorite writers.