Author: Beth Revis
Released: October 6th 2014
Publisher: Scripturient Books
Length: 482 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Body Electric
The future world is at peace.Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.But not all is at it seems.Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…Someone’s altered her memory.Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.So who can she trust?
For a while after I finished The Body Electric, I struggled to gather my thoughts and figure out how to appropriately express my feelings. My experience with this book felt, for those few shocked minutes, far too important to be put into my unskilled English sentences. But I had to try, I had to do what I can to help this book get the attention it absolutely deserves.
I always enjoyed Revis’ work, but I never experienced it this intensely. The Body Electric brings something new to the table, both in worldbuilding and characterization. It is certainly a big step forward for Beth Revis herself and for Young Adult Science Fiction in general. Truth be told, this book doesn’t read like YA at all. Revis held nothing back, she didn’t try to make things more simple or accessible to a younger audience. This book is an explosion of creativity and emotions with no barriers whatsoever, and as such, it deserves all the praise it can get.
The issues Revis explores aren’t new to the science fiction genre. In fact, she herself mentions that she owes a great literary debt to Phillip K. Dick and his Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. She even named Ella’s father, the groundbreaking scientist, Phillip K. Shepherd, which is a nod to the famous author inside the story itself. But even though it’s been dissected so many times before, the question of what truly makes us human has never been answered with any level of certainty. Therefore, it is still just as important as it was 50 years ago or more.
The author’s note informs us that the worldbuilding was inspired by Revis’ traveling, but it would have been obvious anyway. The images of Malta are too vivid, from the colors, certain traditions and smells, to the people and their ways. But Malta isn’t at the center of this story. Revis created a whole new city on a bridge between the two main Maltese islands, a city built to become the home of a new government. New Venice has everything technology has to offer 250 years from now, but it also celebrates what was lost – the old Venice, swallowed by water a long time ago. New Venice was built after a horrible war, when large nations became united in their attempt to achieve peace and a new government was formed. Ella doesn’t remember the war, she was born in New Venice a year after it ended. She is the daughter of two brilliant scientists, but lately her life has been a series of disasters. Her father died in an attack on his lab, her mother is terminally ill, and Ella herself sometimes sees and hears strange things, things that make her doubt her own mind.
The romance is central to the plot, but it stays in the background most of the time. I loved how it was done, it was important, but never all-consuming and overwhelming. Faced with an obviously unreliable narrator and a boy who claims to know her very well, I became obsessed with uncovering the truth about them and about Ella’s life since her father died. Revis has achieved something that doesn’t happen often anymore – she created a story that swallowed me completely and made me forget about everything else in the world.
The book loses a bit of its strength in the second half as things become far more complicated and difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, it is an amazing story altogether, an experience I’m unlikely to forget. Read this if you liked Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or Bernard Beckett’s Genesis. Or even if you didn’t, just read it. You need this book in your life.
The Kindle edition is currently $4.99 which means you'd be getting almost 500 pages of ridiculously good Sci-Fi for a very reasonable price.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.