You know how much I love a good dystopian novels, right? ESPECIALLY when they can stand on their own and not foist a trilogy upon me. (This ended well, PLEASE, don’t trilogy me!) A while back I received an email from Penguin (my favorite publisher, for obvious reasons) offering me a copy of The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian in exchange for an honest review. Despite my love of penguins and Penguin, the receipt of a free book has not compromised my integrity. For real, I’m too honest for my own good.
The Office of Mercy had me hooked pretty fast. It’s an undeniable page turner, that’s for darn sure. Natasha Wiley lives in a settlement known as America-Five. About 300 years before this novel takes place, a great “Storm” destroyed the majority of human life on planet Earth. What remained holed up in these elaborate bunkers and got their science on. Since then they’ve been slowly expanding and figuring out ways to clothe, feed, house, and amuse their population. Oh, and they’ve been growing spare organs and attempting to conquer the aging process. Nobody dies in America-Five.
People do, however, still die on the Outside. Natasha works in what is known as The Office of Mercy, her job being to track tribes of Storm survivors, and if they get too close, to kill them. Compassionately. To end their suffering. It’s all very altruistic.
The vast majority of the citizens in America-Five have drunk the kool-aid. There are a handful of conscientious objectors, and though they’re tolerated, they are NOT popular. It’s hard to work in the room where you release the death weapons and not buy into the philosophy, so Natasha is on board…
Until she goes on her first field mission, and she realizes that the tribes people aren’t exactly what the elders have trained her to believe. That’s when all the interesting stuff starts to happen that I can’t TELL you about because it would be SPOILER-Y and this book is too good for me to ruin for you. Ugh. Scruples.
I loved the ethical conundrums put forth by this book and Natasha’s evolution. Plus, all the science-y stuff was pretty rad. I’m a sucker for rooms full of spare human organs, what can I say? If you like dystopian fiction, I highly recommend The Office of Mercy.
Since America-Five is getting close to providing its citizens with immortality (thanks to spare organs and fancy pants medicine) I got to thinking. Even if you were guaranteed health, safety, and a life free of physical suffering, would you want to live forever?
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