If this book had been written in the era of Huxly's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984 I am of no doubt it would be on the reading list of every creative-subject university student looking to broaden and enrich their perspective of humanity. It was however written and published a little over a year ago, and quite deservingly received the Arthur C. Clarke Award of 2013.
I loved this book. It speaks on many levels, addressing uncomfortable subjects like incest, sexism and sexual abuse head on and without reserve. It explores the reversion to tribalism which Golding did so well in Lord of the Flies, and did so on a level equal to Golding.
Jon Redlantern is a character who will always stay with me. In a society descended from one man and one woman alone, neither of which had a particularly large or clean gene pool, genetic disorders are rife. Cleft lips, cleft pallets and "clawfoot" are the most visible of the problems many of the extended family are afflicted with. There is also a rather evident slide on the intelligence scale, making someone of average intellect appear truly brilliant. The state of this society, only some 160 years in the making is shockingly poor. The author achieves a great commentary on his subjects using PoV from a handful of characters, using their own simple vocabulary to effect.
Jon's role is to break the tradition bound simplistic society out of its downward spiral, and in doing so places himself and those who follow him in harms way. Both the ecology of Eden and its human population are as stubborn and alien as each other, and neither will be easy to overcome. And if you have read and enjoyed Huxly, Orwell and Golding, you'll love this book!