Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Melancholy:Episode One by Charlotte McConaghy

“Never stop questioning.” This quote from one of the characters we don’t even meet is the perfect profile for this novel. Set 50 years in the future, the human race is fragmented among the drones who live in the city drugged to avoid sadness; the barbaric and violent furies who hunt other humans; and those of the resistance. Josephine manages to get Luke far away to the resistance but he is unconscious and she must conceal her true identity. The novel slips back and forth in time and from various points of view, but it never gets confusing or slacks in the driving force of the plot. Many things are not told, not revealed in this novel but that only enhances the tension as we move among the various points of view. The title is a spoiler alert in that this is “episode one” and the novel ends on a cliffhanger but this one is so worth the ride. With minimal details McConaghy creates a ravaged world of the future and makes us care about these young people. The author, and the characters, play with the age-old question of freedoms. If you could erase pain and sadness, would you? Is passion the other side of melancholy? Would you give up passion and joy to avoid sorrow and despair? What if you didn’t have the choice? “It seems like madness, this blanket belief that everyone has to be happy all the time . . . . If we have the right to pursue happiness then we also need to have a right to frustration – to understanding what we’re deprived of.” Melancholy: Episode One is a thoughtful provoking dystopian novel that forces you to think about what you would choose. When does Episode Two come out!

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