Guys, I really can’t believe how much more I am enjoying Young Adult books. Sci-fi/dystopian books are also creeping up my like-o-metre (totally made up that word). If there is one thing I am grateful to Joyful Antidotes for it is for opening up my range of reading genres. Emotional outburst aside, I would like to introduce you to my latest review, which hits both these genres.
Aaru by David Meredith tells the story of 16-year-old Rose who is dying from cancer. She is skeletal and weak and, after trying medicine after medicine, is ready to die. Rose has come to terms with her death but her younger sister Koren has not. Ultimately, this leads Koren to convince Rose to make one final attempt to save her life. Introducing Aaru: a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an Arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death.
This story is futuristic but is also very much down to earth and realistic. How can it be both? Well, the book is very much split between Koren and Rose. The chapters Rose leads are very much focused on her “life” in Aaru, where anything is possible and can be achieved just by thinking about it. With Koren, we are back in the real world, so to say. We are reminded of the pain of losing someone and the other bad things the world can offer.
Now that I mentioned pain, I have to warn you that the first 30 pages are very sorrowful indeed, as we follow Rose’s heartbreaking end. However, by no means is death the main theme of this book. Aaru has an even darker side, one which was disturbing to read but which touches on a topic that needs to be brought further into the light: the sexualisation of young girls.
As Koren becomes the spokesperson for Elysian Industries, she also becomes a celebrity and, to make her what is deemed “more appealable to the public” she is dressed in revealing clothes and lots of make-up. Koren doesn’t really realise the wrong in how she is dressed and, for me, this really exemplified her innocence. She really trusts in the path Elysian Industries and her parents are setting for her but it is this path which leads her into danger. I don’t want to say too much more here and spoil a part of the story but let’s just say the dangers of child exploitation are very heavily referred to in Aaru.
Finally, Aaru asks the question: “What would you do?” What would you put yourself through to be healthy again? How many treatments or rounds or medication? Would you risk entering into an unknown area rather than go through the natural process of dying? This story really made me think about the inevitability of death and will do the same to you.
OK, maybe the darkness of my review has you hovering over the x on this page but WAIT! This is not a book you want to miss out on. Yes, it is a tale of love and loss and the consequences they can have, but it is also a story of a unique world which will have you wanting more. They say you should do at least one new thing every day – make Aaru yours!
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.