Sunday, July 6, 2014

'Anomaly' by Krista McGee

Anomaly (Anomaly #1)
Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?

I'm sure we've all seen some children shamed and shunned for being 'too emotional'. In fact, as we grow older, we do learn to keep our emotions in check. Imagine if you are the only person with a full gamut of emotions in a world of clinical, matter-of-fact peers who have been genetically designed to fit in and do as they are told. This is Thalli's lot in life, and she knows she must keep a lid on hers at all times or she will be taken away in shame to face annihilation. She doesn't want to be without her emotions, because she rather likes them. Some teens we know seem talented at assuming the indifferent and emotionless stance at will, but I wonder if they'd be able to do it every day, with the threat of certain death if they don't. Thalli pulls it off remarkably well until one day, her iron will-power comes crashing down when she's assigned to listen to a piece of music by Johann Bach as part of studies toward being a musician. 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' turns out to be her downfall, and she can't contain her tears.

Her story takes place in a future society, when the world as we know it has been annihilated. Humans are kept in age groups and assigned strict tasks. None of the young people have ever seen signs of sickness or age in another person. When Thalli is scheduled for annihilation, her childhood friend Berk, now working with the scientists, steps in to try to save her. But he can't reveal his true intentions toward her.

One of my favourite characters is 90-year-old John, and his stories of the world before the apocalypse. Without actual dates being given, we get the impression that he might have been born around the same time as some of us. He tells her about God, the Designer, and considers himself part of the Remnant who are always providentially left behind. I enjoyed how Thalli came to relate his stories about love (something they never get taught) with the feelings she has for Berk.

There are a few details which make me wonder. How could Thalli have slipped under the radar in her very early years? Toddlers with emotions cannot possibly conceal them or understand the need to, I'm sure. However, it's still a good, fast-paced read which held my interest.

4 stars

Thanks to Net Galley and Thomas Nelson for a free review copy.

Anomaly available from Amazon

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