The Goodness Gene
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the comparative virtues of simulated sex and natural sex are discussed. The government practices euthanasia and the equivalent of abortion, though the fetuses are all grown in labs, but this is portrayed as the actions of an evil government.
What's the story?
Will is the son of the Compassionate Director of the Dominion of the Americas in a post-apocalyptic future. He and his brother, Berk, have been raised in privilege and trained for leadership, someday to take over from their father. They eat artificial food, breathe artificial air, and live in a loveless, sexless, sterile world where fetuses are created in labs and \"The Goodness\" is enforced on all.
As part of his training Will is sent to observe some of the outlying areas, including a \"Compassionate Removal,\" in which imperfect people are taken away, supposedly for a better life on an asteroid. But a ruptured appendix lands him in a hospital, where he begins to find out things about himself that turn his world upside down and make him realize that everything he has been taught a lie.
Is it any good?
When an author has a Point to make, the story usually takes a back seat -- and that is certainly true here. Author Sonia Levitin has a Point, as she details in an Author's Note and extensive source list, though even with all that it's a little hard to see clearly just what it is, beyond "we're all going to Hell in a hand basket." And she hammers home that vague Point with a cudgel so heavy that it is at times almost laughable. She is so determined to stack the deck against this future society that she brings Hitler, that old reliable bogeyman, into the equation.
This kind of thing has been done before, and much better. Levitin starts right out by violating Rule 1 of dystopian novels: The society has to have at least some superficial appeal before the big reveal of the rot at its core, else why would anyone put up with it? It would be nice to have characters you can care about, and a story that doesn't just go on with nothing much happening other than the main character gradually realizing the painfully obvious.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the author's pessimistic view of the future. Do you think this is a realistic extrapolation from modern trends? What's the purpose of dystopian fiction? Can you think of other examples, either in books or other media?