Protagonist Lauren Fielding’s papers recount her terrifying experiences and revelations as a government experiment in Goelman’s unsettling dystopia.
It’s the fall of 2031, and a post–climate disaster U.S. is in the grip of the Department of Security, Defense, and Well-Being, empowered under the Emergency Act to protect the country at any cost, even the cost of its own citizens. Lauren is a young white teen with a cognitive disability that interferes with her capacity to disbelieve or distrust anyone. Because of the danger to which such naiveté is vulnerable, Lauren undergoes brain surgery to correct the issue, and while thrilled at first, Lauren steadily becomes more paranoid with each passing day as her new clarity of perception unmasks the dissembling corruption of the Department and her role within it. Told in a series of collected journal entries, therapy-session transcripts, and appended footnotes from Lauren’s older sister, Lauren’s memories of events and dialogue are more detailed than what is altogether believable, and the centering of a (fictional) mental disability simply to “cure” it is disappointingly stale. However, readers who enjoy the moral cartwheels of a nation flooded by fear and the chill of a troublingly plausible future punctuated by opportunistic and insidiously innovative scientists will find all the frissons they could ask for here.
Nineteen Eighty-Four meets V for Vendetta in a thrilling package. (Dystopian adventure. 13-17)