Waters’ debut novel explores a future in which fertile women have devolved into a scarce and precious commodity. This is the first of a two-part story arc. The sequel, Prototype, will be released six months after this book is published.
Emma knows she was in an accident, but no one will tell her exactly what that accident was or how she ended up in a hospital with her memory wiped clean. All she knows is what she’s been told: That she is the beloved wife of a man named Declan. Handsome and successful, Declan seems devoted to her, but Emma keeps having odd and off-putting flashbacks that take her to places she vaguely remembers, even though she’s positive she’s never been to any of them before. And she can’t shake that voice inside her, the one that keeps telling her things aren’t what they seem. When, after weeks of preparation, Emma is finally allowed out of the hospital in which she resides, she discovers that the truth about her previous life is very different from the one that Declan and the doctor want her to believe. Ultimately, the person she turns out to be isn’t one that anyone, including Emma, could have ever anticipated. She also discovers that she lives in a country divided by civil war and very different ideas of what is acceptable and what is not. Waters’ premise and ensuing storyline is interesting, and she competently creates a future where the social order is knocked upside down. However, the novel is hampered by the odd, stilted voice she uses when writing about Emma and Declan, and writing in the present tense only emphasizes the awkwardness of the prose. The first few chapters are also a tough read; the author made a deliberate decision to obfuscate Emma’s circumstances in order to gin up the tension, and while the story ultimately works, it’s difficult to maintain interest early on.
Starts slow but eventually picks up steam.