Junior Inquisitor

Junior Inquisitor

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Beneath a Sunless Sky by Jessica Alter

Beneath a Sunless Sky is a coming of age story in the same way Dune is a story of a boy named Paul becoming a man. Under Jess' careful hand, the story, Remy, the main character, and all of the other inhabitants of this world come alive. Almost everyone lives in a dome controlled by a central computer, placed into a rather rigid caste system depending upon skills and testing. At the same time what appears to be a utopia has a dark side, and there are hints the central computer is acting more of a puppet master, than benevolent deity. Information has been suppressed, history sanitized, and the obstinate eradicated. This is not a free society, but one where obedience is compelled.

Remy was on track to become one of the leaders, a member of the highest caste when a freak accident, an impossible accident, causes brain damage that even the best doctors can not fix. Yet, healing does occur, she remembers more and more of what she was and the knowledge she had before the accident. Despite her improvements, for some reason she can not pass the central computer's standardized test for even the most basic level of citizenship.

Remy's biggest problem, and one she does even seem to quite understand is that men want to possess her, like a trophy. They do not want her love, marriage is only offered as a gilded cage, These men want to collect her, own her. It is from this many of her problems spring forth.

Remy is penned in detail, she is real, alive. She makes mistakes, and shows brilliant flashes of insight, she can both be the naive little sister and the ingenue. She picks fight where she shouldn't and avoids help when she should. She comes across as fallible, human.

This is not a fast read with lots of explosions and pirates fighting ninjas, this is a thinking book one best digested over time. Even after you put it down, it will linger with you asking questions, fostering internal debates on the nature of people, how civil society is versus how it should be, and why did Remy make a particular choice.

For me, a book that lingers, that I remember long after I hit “The End,” is the best type to read, even if there were no dinosaur rampages or zombie outbreaks. It is well worth the three dollars it is currently priced at Amazon.


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