Going Underground: Independent Minds – by L.n Denison – Review

This is a nice book, at times typical and at other times, quite unconventional. The one thing I loved about this novel is its level of humor: certainly not slapstick, and yet capable of leaving you in splits. I couldn’t help but chuckle at this:

“‘The Government bureaucrats have been lying to us for years. The war has been nothing more than a cleansing exercise that has gone terribly wrong and—’

The crowd erupted in mocking laughter, thinking that he was a crazy man, not believing a word he said.”

Or this one: “‘I’ll retract the word celebration. How about riotous tendencies instead?’ he proposed whimsically.”

The dialogs are quite realistic, but too close to the way we speak in 2015. Point to ponder: would people really be speaking in this fashion in 2044 and beyond?

“‘You can’t be serious!’ Oscar said despondently. ‘I can’t read this chicken scratch, let alone understand it! Can you please tell me what it says?’

Myron snatched the paper back and retrieved his actual, proper notes from his coat pocket. He and Jen stifled their smiles.

‘Ha-ha! Very funny! We’re supposed to be taking this seriously!’ Oscar retorted, stamping his foot for emphasis like a spoiled child.

‘Chill out, mate,’ said Myron. ‘What with all we’ve been through, I thought a little light-hearted fun would take some of the pressure off.’”

Among the characters, Jen is admirable. Her resilience and strength of character redeems her in my eyes despite her overly rebellious nature; she could as well be the poster girl for modern feminists; at times she even sounds as prophetic as Jesus Christ (‘One of the people in that room is going to betray our trust—I can feel it, Myron,’). Myron is the typical bad-guy-turned good guy (well sort of), someone the heroine starts to hate but grows to get attracted to (“she was relieved that he was finally growing a backbone—and his bullish manner made her a little horny”). I felt as though, the real hero of the book was Oscar!

Some of the character portrayals are a bit stereotypical; like being a redhead means she would be a bad tempered person, or being from rich family means he would be a bully etc. Even the way the protagonist is bullied is quite tacky, I felt. The heroine is a rebellious teen female but thankfully not totally powerless in the hands of her male bully as is typical with this genre’s novels. She knows how to fight back, a character trait of her that I admired very much. Sure Jen’s a bit screwed up but who won’t be, given the circumstances in which she grew up (not to mention the impurity of her blood)? It would have been interesting to see how the story would turn out had the author reversed the stereotypes; it would also have been interesting to have the bully as a ‘lowborn’ female and the protagonist as a privileged male. Personally I have found that school bullying has little to do with artificial class distinctions and more with personality issues (my own experience), but maybe things would become different by 2044, who knows!

Warning: Some of the scenes, especially involving Jen’s ‘punishment’ can be a bit uncomfortable to some readers (“She had grown weak from having stood in the same position for nearly two days. Her trousers were covered in stale urine, the smell of which had become unbearable in the confined space.”)

The ending definitely knocked my socks off!