Friday, June 17, 2016

Book review - Gifted

Title: Gifted
Author: H. A. Swain
Genre: dystopia
Similar books: MARTians by Blythe Woolston
                     Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos
Great concept, decent execution

Summary(provided by publisher): In Orpheus Chanson's world, geniuses and prodigies are no longer born or honed through hard work. Instead, procedures to induce Acquired Savant Abilities (ASAs) are now purchased by the privileged. And Orpheus's father holds the copyright to the ASA procedure.
Zimri Robinson, a natural musical prodigy, is a "plebe"--a worker at the enormous warehouse that supplies an on-line marketplace that has supplanted all commerce. Her grueling schedule and her grandmother's illness can't keep her from making music--even if it is illegal.
Orpheus and Zimri are not supposed to meet. He is meant for greatness; she is not. But sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. Here is a thriller, love story, and social experiment that readers will find gripping--and terrifying.

My opinion: Firstly, this is a great variation on the standard dystopian setting. Other novels have a world where art and music are tightly controlled or outlawed outright. In Swain's novel it is privatized, own by corporations from the moment it is created. That's new and entirely believable. So I was completely on board with the concept. The execution, though, had some believability issues. I could accept Orpheus vanishing into plebe society. He had kept out of the public eye and everyone he knew only used him as part of some agenda. It was the characters themselves I struggled with. Orpheus is just a little too good, too enamored with hard work and "real" life. He doesn't really wish for the comforts of his old life or even struggle to adjust to plebe life. With the exception of Orpheus, all of the privileged characters are shallow, concerned only with their own position in society, and have no real care for others. While we are given explanations for their behavior, it can feel like a judgement of all people who come from a privileged background.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

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