Monday, 8 September 2014

Land

In 2014 sea levels rose to destructive heights. Those with the means fled in boats, sailing until they found land. These refugees set about creating Land, a place where everyone had their assigned purpose. Sixty years later, the population is divided, the colour of their clothes designates their position. You have no choice, you must do the job that Land gives you. Christy, daughter of a traitor, is seventeen and ready to accept that she won’t be Paired. Who would allow her DNA to prosper?

Land is a truly Orwellian tale which echoes horrors of WWII. Faced with shortage of land and resources, the founders of Land set about putting a society in place to control the population. Not only is size, but in their very day to day existence. Perhaps they set out with good intentions and corruption ensued, but by the time Christy is seventeen, the rot has set in. The Leader wants only the best DNA, in his opinion, to thrive; to reward the already privileged blues and beat down the workers and the worthless.

It did feel all very familiar to me though. I wonder if Land is best enjoyed by those who haven’t read many properly political dystopian tales. A lot of what is called dystopia is using the term very loosely, and this at least fits the profile perfectly, and that makes me happy.

It’s useful to remember that projects like Selection and the Youth Troopers are atrocities that really happened. As time passes, it’s too easy for events to become stories in a population’s culture, just as Christy is told stories from her grandmother of the Old Times. Although at least those stories told of a better place, not a worse one. When we turn history into stories, we have to remember that these things can happen.

I’m not convinced by the timeline. 60 years is perfectly enough time for a community to screw themselves over, however the fact that a small piece of land populated by refugees has somehow managed to perfect manufacturing of cars and electronics, is hard to believe. Not to mention how they get the resources. It would make more sense if they were using scavenged and recycled goods, but it’s made to look like the cars and tracers are all made to be the same. Perhaps the bit of land conveniently included a warehouse of such things…

You think that if they’ve managed to create clever pills that make people die of apparent natural causes, they’d have managed to sort out contraception. The sexism of Land doesn’t seem to be challenged at all. Only women are punished for unapproved sex; they get sent to state sanctioned brothels to serve the men that can’t control their urges. Apparently women don’t have sexual urges in this Land. The men who create unapproved babies face no punishment at all. If it were solely about population control or eugenics, contraception would be the obvious choice. There’s only one point where Christy pauses to consider that forced prostitution, and therefore a lifetime of repeated rape, could be a fate worse than death.

There’s a lot to cover and some serious issues that I’m not sure they get given the time they deserve. The Pairing is essentially arranged marriage, one more thing citizens of Land don’t have a choice over. One Pairing results in domestic violence; I think it is put in there to demonstrate that it’s something that doesn’t always end well. I’m actually surprised there were so many Pairings that did work.

Land is published by Hot Key Books and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Hot Key Books

Shelve next to: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell



Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

2 comments:

  1. Ugh, I think I would have thrown this book away in frustration if I was reading it. I could never understand why the first thing to go is the ability of a woman to own her own body. It makes me sick. Also, after The Handmaid's Tale I don't think anyone can beat Atwood with writing on similar subject, Ellie... Thanks for a great review!

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    1. I would have had less on an issue with it if it were challenged or the men also got punished. Unlike Atwood it wasn't the focus of the story, so it didn't get that examination that it needed. It was sort of an add on to show how awful the world was.

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