Review: The Book

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The Book
by Michael Clifford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Book / B003CV7T9E

In a world where recycling laws have outlawed the printed page in favor of the electronic book, Holden loves nothing more than coming home after a long day and firing up his Book and re-reading "The Catcher in the Rye". But when all the Books are offline due to updates, he starts to understand how a printed page can be less easy to tamper with...

A wonderful update of older dystopia classics, this excerpt seeks to continue the proud tradition of examining a society where the population is controlled through their access to language. Where "Fahrenheit 451" showed a society controlled through complete denial of the written word, and "1984" displayed a society controlled through the redefinition of the written word, "The Book" seeks to show the dangers of a society where data cannot be backed up locally, and all written language is subject to change at any moment of any day.

If I may make one suggestion, it would be that the initial pacing and world-building seems a little slow and heavy-handed. Some of this is to be expected in a aesopic dystopian novel, but too much can relegate a novel to "schoolroom classic" (i.e., studied but rarely read). Making the main character named 'Holden' is fair game, but giving him a dead-end job as a depressed, divorced, dead-end dad ends up with him slewing awfully close to his namesake, and you may come off as anvilicious to the reader. In the same vein, the world-building here is extremely good, but all the constant references to recycling are a bit distracting - there's a recycling image on all the Books, the pages are green, the characters mention Reduce, Reuse, Recycle's possibly a bit much. I would suggest reining it in with a little more subtlety, perhaps by removing the logos and green screens, and trust the reader to put two and two together.

Overall, I'm impressed with this excerpt, and with the new "classic" dystopia presented here - it's about time we readers had a new cautionary tale to absorb.

NOTE: This review is based on a sample excerpt of this book provided through the ABNA contest.

~ Ana Mardoll

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