Twelve years after the Event, seventeen-year-old Charley has been given a score nearly double that of the average Meritopolis citizen. He’s been living above ground for approximately a fortnight, having finally grown old enough to leave the below-ground dormitories he’d been studying and training in for nearly the entirety of his life. People with lower scores, he’s finding, are treated like animals, and if their score drops below a 50, they’re put outside the gates to die. People like him, with high scores, are treated very well and sometimes mockingly called “breeders,” and although Meritopolis isn’t big enough and doesn’t have enough food for everyone, high scores will always be safe.
Unfortunately for the System, Charley’s brother was born with Down’s syndrome and put outside the gates to die when both were quite young. As such, Charley is definitely not in favor of the zeroing process – the term used when someone is banished and ultimately killed by the roaming bands of starving genetically-modified combination creatures running loose outside.
Commander Olsen, who has the highest score in Meritopolis, is forced to intervene when Charley tries to stop a seven-year-old girl from being zeroed by attacking the town’s guards. An adherent of the System, he can’t kill Charley, but he can make life miserable for him while Charley simultaneously works to zero the System.
Joel Ohman’s Meritopolis is a solid Young Adult dystopian novel. While the text is well written and edited, the story is a little stilted and short on description. It also never manages to transcend the obvious formulae for a young adult dystopian novel, which disables the storyline itself from ever being surprising. Despite these flaws, it is entertaining. The novelty of the combination characters piqued my interest, with hybrids such as the Rottweiler-boar, or rotthog.
Charley isn’t a very likeable character, despite his defense of the underdog and belief in the sanctity of human life. He comes across as belligerent and arrogant – it is his only character flaw, but I’m not certain if it was intended on the part of the writer. Sandy, however, was a very likeable character, but none of the characters were thoroughly fleshed out (as is par for the course with YA dystopian fiction).
It’s obvious that this story is not intended to be contained in one book and ends in a large cliff-hanger. In itself, it is mildly satisfying, but there are definitely many questions left unanswered.
This is the type of series that can only get better as time goes on and the characters become more developed.
|Page Count||270 pages|
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