Ever since the rage of The Hunger Games caught on, dystopia fiction has become a broken record craze in the world of YA fiction. Specifically, the secular world has been a hive of popularity for this genre to succeed and it’s almost overplayed itself with clichés. Christian fiction has been more leery of the genre. Despite that, I’ll admit to being interested in several fandoms plus I practically squealed when learning that Christian authors were about to foray into the once uncharted territory that was futuristic fiction – bravo to these authors! Krista is a talented author so I knew the genre would be well represented from the start, and you know what? Anomaly certainly proves the reasons why Krista McGee is a bright light in the YA fiction scene. Because it’s a dystopian world destroyed from a nuclear war (which is really quite terrifying if a reader ponders the possibilities too long), the characters aren’t so much relatable as they are products of their environment. In other words, the first person narrative is more about its protagonist, Thalli trying to purpose the reason she is an “anomaly.” As a genetically altered product (a “Pod C” generation), Thalli isn’t supposed to emotionally react or feel or think beyond what she was designed to do – and her role in her Pod is that of a musician. Much of the story is told “in summary,” as we read through Thalli’s fears, questions and emotions of acting out, yet she rarely does – unable to distinguish between what’s “real” and what’s a stimulation.
Setting itself apart from its peers is the Christianity Krista wove into this story. It was done effortlessly and with 17-year-old Thalli’s curious nature, it was not hard to believe she’d seek out who The Designer was and why He was more powerful than the Scientists who are now in control of their “below” world. Frightening in its underpinnings, the faith of Thalli and her consuming, beautiful connections to God – through music, is powerfully depicted and was probably the most emotional element in the narrative. The fear doesn’t appear in overt instances but as we read chapter after chapter, it becomes more obvious that nothing is quite as it seems – our minds switch out possibilities often and spend a good deal of time wondering what alternative is the real thing. Paring it down to its most basic level, this book is kinda awesome. Everything is exactly how one would imagine the best kind of dystopia fiction should experience – the character’s names are unique and the setting is appropriately impersonal. This then leads us to the prose.
If there would be one negative of the story, it’s the writing. Don’t misunderstand; McGee wrote this story excellently, it’s just that because of the sci-fi vibes, the “voice” in the story is a bit abrupt, less poetic. Not sure this can be branded as a “con” considering, it has a purpose: it’s lending to the idea of an impersonal, logical world without feeling or belief in anything other than science or the “design” of what each Pod Mate was created to accomplish. Having anticipated this novel since learning of its existence, Anomaly DID NOT disappoint. It’s a fast read (cannot remember the last time I buzzed through a book so quickly) that literally leaves us hanging on its last words, wondering why its sequel isn’t already on our doorstep. Any reader knows that a sign of a great book is one that makes its reader wish that yearlong sequel watch weren’t so far away. In the meantime, this is one reader who is likely to reserve a spot for part one of Thalli’s journey on her keeper shelf.
Synopsis: Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world was decimated by a nuclear war. But life continued deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. There they created genetically engineered human beings who are free of emotions in the hope that war won’t threaten the world again.
Thalli is an anomaly, born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far by hiding her differences. But then her secret is discovered when she’s overwhelmed by the emotion of an ancient piece of music.
The Ten quickly schedule her annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk – a scientist being groomed by The Ten – convinces them to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the Scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance.
As her life ticks a way, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer – someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.
Thalli must sort out what to believe and who to trust, before her time runs out.
Thalli was scheduled for annihilation. She was considered an anomaly–able to experience emotions that should have been eradicated by genetic modification. The Scientists running the State couldn’t allow her to bring undue chaos to their peaceful, ordered world. But seconds before her death, she is rescued.
Now Thalli is above ground in a world she thought was destroyed. A world where not even the air is safe to breathe. She and her three friends must journey across this unknown land, their destination a hidden civilization. It’s their only chance of survival.
Broken and exhausted after an arduous journey, they arrive in New Hope, a town that survived the nuclear holocaust. When Thalli meets the people there–people actually “born” to “families”–her small world is blown wide open.
Soon after their arrival to New Hope, the town comes under attack. She has escaped imminent death, but now Thalli is thrust into a new fight–a fight to save her new home. Does she know enough about this world of emotions, this world of chaos, to save not only herself, but the people she has come to love? – January 2014
Sincere thanks to Litfuse for a complimentary review copy!