Review of Phoebe Wray - Jemma 7729
Jemma 7729 has the misfortune of being born into a very dystopian North America, one devastated by earlier war. The government of this time has twisted history, using their biased version of to justify their subjugation of women. This causes a serious problem for Jemma, a wilful, independent girl who refuses to step into line and accept the lowly position of being female.
She fights back, refuses to allow boys to bully her, and in one case rape her, and the authorities put the blame squarely on her shoulders - after all she should have allowed the boys to beat her, should have submitted to their naturally aggressive nature and kept quiet.
When she doesn't she is punished, imprisoned in a correction facility facing just the prospect of being altered - chemically stripped of her will and emotions.
Where most would give up, Jemma continues to fight back. She escapes from her prison and begins a campaign of resistance, dedicating herself to destroying as many of the facilities producing the alteration drugs as she can.
In many ways this book reads like a feminist version of George Orwell's 1984, Wray is treading the same boards as Sheri Tepper. But whereas Tepper tells unique stories, full of freshness and unlike anything else you are likely to come across, Wray's work feels familiar.
Originality is one thing this novel just does not have. Several of the elements are so predictable it is unbelievable. However it is very readable, and more over it's readable even if you aren't an overt feminist - or even female. In many ways that puts her one up on Sheri Tepper, I could see this book being enjoyed by teenage readers - definitely not something you could see with a Tepper novel.
Jemma is a very likeable hero. When she is being persecuted you feel the injustice of her situation. When she is struggle against the system you root for her, will her to succeed despite the inevitable futility of her efforts and overwhelming odds against her.
Thankfully Jemma does not have a golden touch. In a book like this it would have been all too easy to make Jemma a superhero, capable of anything. What she is though is determined, and intelligent - and she uses this well, researching and planning before making her every move.
But even with this level of care she does run into trouble on many occasions, escaping some by luck, others by being rescued - she makes good allegiances that serve her well.
The style of this seems ideal for younger readers. The action and violence is described in a very gentle manner, even when the action the author is describing is of a graphic nature. This is further emphasised with the underlying hope running throughout this novel. Even when things seem futile Jemma never gives up, never accepts her fate - not matter how grim the situation. Not bad; I wouldn't call it brilliant, but not bad!