Backroads reviewed a book.
“At the book's beginning, I didn't believe I would care for "Aquifer". The prologue was overly confusing, the world-building awkward, and the writing and introduction a tad clunky. Fortunately, a few chapters later, the book hit its stride and I was hooked. While I love the concept of YA dystopian...”
“At the book's beginning, I didn't believe I would care for "Aquifer". The prologue was overly confusing, the world-building awkward, and the writing and introduction a tad clunky. Fortunately, a few chapters later, the book hit its stride and I was hooked. While I love the concept of YA dystopian novels, quite some time has passed since I read one I actually liked. This story was fresh with enough originality as well as attention to the ideas that make a tale truly dystopian. It's not perfect; many characters, even important ones, remained vague and some concepts were a little hard to buy. But that does not change the fact that is still the best ya dystopian novel I've read in years.
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If only it wasn't so... dark.
The concept is simple enough. A few centuries in the future, the world is virtually without fresh water (this is never really explained). However, deep beneath Australia is an aquifer that keeps the surface world supplied. Ever year, Luca's father Massa journeys down below to strike a bargain with the Rats in order to keep the water coming. Like a sacrifice of old, the world rejoices in another year of life. But the world is far from perfect, with a Council controlling everyone, including their emotions. Luca struggles with this, as well as the secrets he knows are being kept from him. When Massa disappears and Luca's life is threatened, he heads down to the Aquifer and finds the Rats and their civilization and the truth of is aren't what he expected.
And this is where the novel turns disturbing, gritty, and dark. Friesen explores some interesting ideas as well as their consequences. The two civilizations in "Aquifer" depend on lies for their survival, yet those same lies are speeding them toward their destruction. This leads to a novel scattered with death, destruction, cruelty and chaos that made this hard to read for me at times--I would not recommend this to those who just can't stomach such things.
Granted, the novel has a fascinating spiritual side to it, and Hope is a big theme that is recognized, but this is far from being a happy book. Frankly, I'm hoping for a sequel just for the actualization of some more hope.
What makes this story work is a fast-moving plot (once it gets going) and the exploration of dystopian ideas. Where this book falls short is in characterization and the glossing over a few concepts that aren't exactly necessary to the plot but are still used and wind up as a little too convenient for story's sake.
But this reader doesn't recall enjoying a dystopian novel so much since the last "Giver" book. It's very dark, but the story is fresh. ”