Publisher: Scripturient Books
Preorder: Malaprops / Amazon / iBookstore / Kobo
Goodreads Summary: The future world is at peace.
Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.
But not all is at it seems.
Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…
Someone’s altered her memory.
Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.
So who can she trust?
(otherwise known as Jess restores her faith in the genre and thanks the world for an engaging standalone)
I thank thee, the standalone book God from above, for this wondrous piece of sci-fi fiction that has broken my 4 star and above drought. You are merciful. You are kind. You are generous (
you were kind of holding out of me for a couple of months there but let’s forget that, shall we?
For those who’ve followed my vigorous whining episodes, you’d know that I’ve been craving for a book that could hold my attention. I can force myself to finish reading a lot of things. I don’t DNF if I’ve made a substantial dent because I have this thing where I think my time is money and I’d rather stay rich than poor and if I’ve wasted some buckaroos than I’m going to make it worth my while. What I needed was a book that would make me scramble to turn the pages, not out of obligation to get my money’s worth, but out of a personal obligation to sate my intense curiosity. This book does it for me. The Body Electric had me, hook line and sinker.
The Body Electric is the scariest type of dystopia (at least to me). It’s a world, post war, where we depend on the intelligence and ability of androids, robots—heck, technology in general. Ella Shepherd has a father who’s dead and a mother who’s afflicted by an incurable disease. It’s not looking up. Her parents
are, were, scientists. Her mother, brilliant woman she is, theorised that walking into another person’s subconscious dreams and memories could be a possibility. But a theory remains just than when it’s unproven. But when Ella takes a crack (and you’re probably thinking, urgh, Jess, that’s called a Mary Sue, but stick with me) lo and behold, she defies the impossible. Obviously in situations like so, the government wants to stick their hand in the candy jar as well. And so Ella, and we, are dragged into a ring of conspiracy, terrorism, threats and lies and truth that blend into one another. It’s a maze, this one, full of twists and wrong turns but the end is so fulfilling.
I had my eyes on The Body Electric months prior to it’s release. With a snyposis like that, who wouldn’t be intrigued. But what caught my attention the most was the absence of the hashtag and number. What does that denote? A standalone. Oh the winds blew that day and a holy light from above shined down. A standalone piece of sci-fi, dystopian with a plot that was as intriguing as they come. Could anything be better? But then came the weariness. I’ve never seen a dystopia done well as a standalone (discounting the archetypal works of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World). How could you fit such a demanding plot, character growth and world-building into such a short amount of time? In my head, you couldn’t. But this book could. You know why? Sacrifice. Here’s a favourite saying of mine (amongst the many): You can’t have everything (even though I try to because let’s face it, I’m probably too greedy for my own good). And so this book skimped on one component in it’s journey to greatness.
Alright, I’ll stop teasing. What this book lacked was a good, rhythmic pace. That is the only reason why it lost half a star. I couldn’t give that half a star because at times I felt cheated. As in, I didn’t have enough time with certain scenes. Pacing is a hard component to get right but when you do, it completes the book. It’s the bow right at the top of a present, you know? Sure, beautiful wrapping paper is great and all but when you see that big fat bow, you know it’s something else; it brings it together. But I understand why this would be fast-paced. Like I said, how could you fit such a demanding plot into one book?! It had to be rushed if we wanted this too be a readable length. I like a bit of extra time in scenes in order to really get that empathy machine going (I’ve got a lot of emotions to give to fictional characters. It’s a shame that these characters didn’t want to stick around and get some.) But I can see many people loving a fast-paced, action packed book. If you fall into that category then you are going to eat this book up and perhaps even ask for seconds.
The thing is, the premise to this—it’s a bit misleading. At heart, this is a book about War. I was shocked at how many passages made brilliant statements about the concept of war. It’s heartbreaking, a slap in the face, but it’s also true.
“The war never ends,” she repeats, her voice more firm now, none of the reminiscence lingering. “And there is always a price to pay. Always….”
We have a government and we have the rebels. But it’s not black and white, good versus bad, virtue versus sin. Because in a war, there is always a price (at risk of sounding like a broken record). The “good” side, no matter how they play it, often succumb to dirty tactics “for the greater good”, but you know what, death, killing, torture—none of that will ever be deemed good, no matter it’s cause.
“There are no winners here. There is no good and bad. By the time this is over, we’ll all have blood on our hands.”
Let’s take a moment to all think about that. It’s true, is it not? The Body Electric makes some great philosophical statements so on that alone, I'd recommend this book.
In terms of POV and whatnot, this book is written in first person. You’re probably all thinking, sure Jess, who cares, that’s how all YA is written. This one, however, stands out. Because our narrator is unreliable. She cannot make sense of reality and hallucinations, differentiate between the truth and the lies. So where does that leave the audience when that happens in 1st person? We’re just as kept in the dark.
And I no longer know who—what—I am.
They’ll be a lot of theorising in the process of devouring this book. We only know what Ella knows. And you know what? I don’t like being kept in the dark. It’s excruciating. But it works in this case because it evokes empathy. We’re experiencing the exact frustration that burdens Ella and so we understand her, hence it making it easier to relate to her. It always helps when the main character has a connection to the audience—disconnection can really make or break a book.
World-building wise, this book did well. There’s one book to establish everything so we don’t get that stringed out, “Let me withhold information from the audience because I’ve got a couple of more books to sell” situation. But it’s not necessarily an info dump either. It’s easy to immerse yourself into the context. The war that brought the world to its knees and the technology that allowed it to rise up from the ashes is explained to satisfaction. If you’re being picky, there’s about one or two plot holes but nothing major. The world-building left me content. Any new technology, concept, idea introduced is equated with a just enough background information and explanation. It’ll be enough for the best of us.
But I know what you’re all dying for. Jess, what about the romance? Don’t hold out on us. If you thought this book had no romance then you’ve got to go back and revaluate the works that fall under the Young Adult tree. Romance is a given, included in the synopsis or not. Here’s my biggest fear with romance in a dystopia: Love that eclipses the plot line, which nurtures irrationality, which promotes the death of self-preservation. Why? I just don’t think that’s necessarily authentic (but feel free to have a differing opinion to me.) I’m glad to report that The Body Electric saved me from a lot of groaning because we have a romance appropriate to the plot. (to an extent—it’s not perfect so don’t quote me on that) Yes, while the romance did integrate quite heavily with the plot line, I didn’t mind it too much. That’s all to do with one line that popped up:
“Your memories of me didn’t define who you were. Who you are. You’re still you, whole and complete, and everything that made you you is still there.”
HALLELUJAH. We have book that doesn’t use love to define it’s characters. It’s all I could ever ask for. What I like with my dystopias is for them to be a story of self-growth; of understanding one’s self; of self-exceptance (don’t judge me, I know I said the same thing in three different forms). I get that here.
But don’t get me wrong. We do have a little bit of romance over reality. If you read my previous discussion post, you can see my thoughts on that (hint: they’re unfavourable). But, that being said, this book does it satirically. Gave me quite a laugh, honestly.
If you’re thinking of grabbing this book then go for it. It’s labelled as science fiction/dystopia, but really, it’s a thriller. And that’s my favourite kind of genre. The twists and turns will have you grabbing the edge of your seat. I called the ending (not a favourite of mine) but when you take into account the amount of recordings on my phone (yes, I’ve resulted to recording notes because a) I like the sound of my voice—haha, I kid—and b) It’s a quicker, more efficient method) that were just of me saying incoherent things with the word “Wow” jammed between them, then you could say I enjoyed this. Very much.
So The Body Electric has reignited my love for science fiction and dystopias. I never thought that could happen (at least for the rest of this year) but hey, I love being proved wrong. For those that are a fans of fast-paced thrillers and a sense of “not knowing” (curtesy of that fabulous unreliable narration) then step right up for Revis serves this straight up on a golden dish. The fact that it’s a standalone just creates hearts in my eyes (yes, think straight to that emoticon. It’s applicable here.) This is definitely a sensational release for the month of October (where some really great stuff is coming out). You want this one to be something you devour for Halloween. You do. Honestly.
Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
This review can be found on my Goodreads.